China Revokes Patent Protection on Popular HBV Antiviral Tenofovir

China’s State Intellectual Property Office has revoked the patent on Gilead Sciences Inc.’s hepatitis B drug tenofovir (Viread), which is used to treat HIV/AIDS and is considered one of the top two antivirals available for treating hepatitis B worldwide because of its potency and low rate of drug resistance. This means any drug company can now produce tenofovir in China.
China’s largest manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients, Aurisco, had challenged the patent, arguing that the drug did not deserve patent protection because its active ingredient has been in the public domain since 1985, and other tenofovir-related patents were for additives that aid absorption of the daily pill. Viread’s patent protection was originally slated to last until 2017.

Tenofovir had been at the center of China’s push to get drug companies to be more flexible with pricing, while simultaneously offering limited patent protection to attract foreign investment.
China has more than 30 million people with chronic hepatitis B, one-third of the world total, according to the Worth Health Organization. HIV/AIDS cases in China are increasing, with 11,575 deaths in 2012.

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