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China revokes Gilead’s patent for key HIV drug

SIPO’s Patent Reexamination Board has revoked Gilead’s patent for Viread following an opposition from domestic manufacturer Arisco

The Patent Reexamination Board found that Gilead’s application lacked novelty. Viread (tenofovir) was discovered in 1985 and is considered a front line drug for AIDS treatment.

China for many years has had provisions in its laws allowing for compulsory licences, though none have been issued. Last May, China issued its Measures for Compulsory Licensing of Patent Implementation, which brought about concerns that China would follow India’s lead in aggressively issuing such licences.

Though China has not yet handed out a compulsory licence, many believe that the government uses the provision to increase leverage in negotiations with drug companies. Last year, reports indicated that Gilead was concerned that Viread would be targeted and offered to make donations of the drug to head off the attempt.

A number of other jurisdictions have also taken steps to increase access to the drug. India and Brazil have rejected patents for tenofovir, while Indonesia took a compulsory licence for the drug. Gilead also licenses the patent to the Medicines Patent Pool in order to help increase access to the drug in certain developing economies.

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