Patent monopoly on oral hepatitis C drug: Threat to patients and health systems in Europe

ONLINE PRESS BRIEFING Tuesday 11 September 2018, 14:30-16:00 CEST

Oral proceedings on a challenge filed against the validity of a patent granted to Gilead Science for the oral hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir (brand name SovaldiÒ) will take place this week at the European Patent Office. Médecins du Monde (MdM), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and civil society organisations from 17 European countries filed this challenge before the EPO last year. If the patent is cancelled, it will represent a crucial step toward enabling the production or importation of affordable generic versions of sofosbuvir in Europe.

Sofosbuvir is the backbone of a treatment regimen that can cure hepatitis C in just 12 weeks. In Europe, where Gilead has sought patent protection for the drug, the company charges as much as €43,000 per 12-week treatment of sofosbuvir. In the United States, Gilead initially set the price at US$84,000 per 12-week treatment – a staggering $1,000 per pill. In countries where patent barriers don’t exist, generic competition has driven the price of this drug to below $100 per 12-week treatment.

Oral drugs called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) represent a major breakthrough in the treatment of hepatitis C, resulting in cure rates of more than 90%. DAAs are safer, more tolerable and more effective compared to older treatments for hepatitis C.

At the press briefing, speakers will share an update on the sofosbuvir patent opposition filed at European Patent Office. Speakers will also provide details about the hearing taking place on 13 and 14 September and its importance in scaling up access to treatment for people living with hepatitis C in Europe.


WHEN: Tuesday 11 September, 14:30-16:00 CEST


  • Olivier Maguet, Médecins du Monde (MdM)
  • Clare Groves, treated and cured of Hepatitis C under National Health System, UK
  • Gaelle Krikorian, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Access Campaign

HOW TO JOIN: Online via Zoom. Please register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Shailly Gupta: +41 79 203 13 02 /





About Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Access Campaign

In 1999, in the wake of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, MSF launched the Access Campaign. Its purpose has been to push for access to, and the development of life-saving and life prolonging medicines, diagnostic tests and vaccines for patients in MSF programmes and beyond.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Access Campaign
Rue de Lausanne 78
P.O Box 1016
CH-1211 Geneva 1