MSF criticises Gilead's voluntary licence agreement with eight Indian generic companies

Decision could restrict access to antiviral drugs across the developing world, says MSF

The decision by Gilead Sciences to expand its voluntary licence agreement with eight Indian generic companies for sofosbuvir and ledipasvir and to include its investigational compound GS-5816 has come in for criticism from the international humanitarian organisation, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

Rohit Malpani, Director of Policy and Analysis, MSF Access Campaign, has noted that the decision would restrict access to these antiviral drugs for people across the developing world.

Stating that it is a 'highly restrictive voluntary licence that restricts access to the drugs for people across the developing world', MSF has said that the Indian government should take all the relevant measures under global trade rules to ensure that access to these medicines would continue at a low cost, and that they would be without any measures or requirements imposed by Gilead.

These drugs are used in the treatment of the hepatitis C virus (HCV). GS-5816 is an important anti hepatitis C compound that, in combination with sofosbuvir, simplifies treatment for developing countries.

The decision would restrict access to these antiviral drugs for people across the developing world

The compound is pan genotypic and covers all different genotypes of HCV, and aims to reduce the cost of diagnosis and help harmonise treatment regimens. The drug may also help shorten treatment from 12 weeks to 8 weeks for some genotypes.

The MSF has stated that Gilead’s voluntary licence falls short of ensuring widespread access to these new drugs in middle income countries, where more than 70% of people with hepatitis C live.

The MSF has said that Gilead’s anti diversion programme not only potentially jeopardises patient confidentiality and privacy, but could also exclude many patients who do not have the citizenship and identification papers that Gilead requires to get access to treatment.

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