The latest battle over access to medicines is taking place in Ukraine, where Doctors Without Borders is urging Gilead Sciences to drop a court action that, if successful, would prevent a generic version of the Sovaldi hepatitis C treatment from remaining available.
In a Sept. 5 letter released publicly Tuesday, Gilead was asked to “reconsider its business strategy in high-burden, middle-income countries, especially Ukraine,” since its strategies “threaten sustainable access to hepatitis C treatment in a number of countries” where the advocacy group treats patients.
The issue arose last June, when Gilead filed a claim against a Ukranian drug wholesaler, the Ukrainian Drug Regulation Authority, and the Ministry of Health, alleging several of its patents prevent generic drug makers from marketing a version of Sovaldi for the next few years. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 12.
In doing so, the company is challenging the right of Pharco Pharmaceuticals, a generic drug maker based in Egypt, to sell a copycat version of Sovaldi in the Ukraine, where more than 1.3 million people are believed to be infected with hepatitis C, according to the World Health Organization.