U.S. Patent Office Rejects Patents on Gilead’s Antiretroviral Viread
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday rejected four patents on Gilead Sciences' antiretroviral drug Viread, Reuters reports. Viread is known generically as tenofovir and is sold as part of Gilead's combination therapies Truvada and Atripla.
According to Reuters, the not-for-profit group Public Patent Foundation, or PUBPAT, last year submitted evidence to PTO that the scientific knowledge on which the four patents were based existed before Gilead held the patents (Beasley, Reuters, 1/23). The foundation in its challenge to the patents submitted prior knowledge that Gilead had not disclosed to PTO during the patent application process. In its challenge, PUBPAT said that the prior knowledge would have prevented PTO from issuing the patents (PUBPAT release, 1/23).
Gilead has the right to respond to the PTO decision (Reuters, 1/23). The patents will be protected while Gilead responds to the decision, the AP/CNNMoney.com reports (AP/CNNMoney.com, 1/23). Amy Flood, a spokesperson for Gilead, said that rejection is a "typical step in the re-examination process," adding that although the "process may take some time," the company does not "believe the exclusivity of our product is in jeopardy" (Reuters, 1/23).
The majority of Gilead's revenue comes from sales of antiretrovirals, the AP/CNNMoney.com reports (AP/CNNMoney.com, 1/23). Morgan Stanley analyst Sapna Srivastava said the rejection creates "some uncertainty about Gilead's core franchise" but added that Morgan Stanley believes the company "will be able to defend its patents." Srivastava added that it could be three to four years before a final decision regarding the patents is made (Reuters, 1/23).
PUBPAT Executive Director Dan Ravicher said the group is "extremely pleased" with the patent office's decision. Ravicher added that every HIV-positive person is "entitled to the best pharmaceuticals possible without undeserved patents making them exorbitantly expensive" (PUBPAT release, 1/23).