(Bloomberg) –The Indian patent office’s rejection of a key patent for Gilead Sciences Inc.’s Hepatitis C treatment Sovaldi may pave the way for more low-cost copies in the country, potentially aiding local companies including Natco Pharma Ltd.
The New Delhi patent office this week rejected the main patent claim for Sovaldi on grounds that it “lacks novelty” and lacks an inventive step. Sovaldi’s $84,000 pricetag for a 12-week course in the U.S. has drawn criticism from patient advocates.
See also: Biotech investors bail out after Gilead’s drug pricing fight.
Drugmakers including Pfizer Inc., Novartis A.G. and Roche Holding A.G. have seen patent applications for blockbuster drugs rejected in India because of stricter standards for innovation. India’s government also caps many drug prices to ensure that the country’s poorest can afford them.
A potential beneficiary of the patent office’s decision on Sovaldi is Hyderabad,India-based Natco, which is opposing the grant of another patent on the formulation of Sovaldi in India. Rajeev Nannapaneni, chief executive officer of Natco, declined to comment.
A Gilead representative couldn’t immediately be reached for comment outside of regular business hours in the U.S. Gilead said in its response to the patent office’s objections that it had been granted patents for similar claims in 17 countries including Israel, China and Indonesia.