Gilead los­es key patent claims for So­val­di in Chi­na, open­ing door to ear­li­er gener­ic en­try

A par­tial patent in­val­i­da­tion by Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties has shak­en the case Gilead has been build­ing for its hep C star So­val­di by re­mov­ing a key bar­ri­er to gener­ic en­try.

The de­ci­sion means knock­offs of the high­ly ef­fec­tive hep C treat­ment can ar­rive as ear­ly as next year — rather than 2024, when the patent was orig­i­nal­ly set to ex­pire — ac­cord­ing to the Ini­tia­tive for Med­i­cines, Ac­cess, and Knowl­edge, or I-MAK. I-MAK filed one of the two re­quests for patent in­val­i­da­tion cit­ed in the rul­ing, to­geth­er with Chi­nese drug­mak­er Fu­jian Co­sunter Phar­ma.

Tahir Amin

Be­cause the patent con­cerns so­fos­bu­vir, a cru­cial base com­pound that’s al­so used to make com­bo drugs like Har­voni and Ep­clusa, this de­ci­sion could af­fect not just one prod­uct but Gilead’s whole hep C fran­chise in the coun­try.

In re­sponse to my ques­tion as to whether Gilead will ap­peal the rul­ing (they have three months to do so), a spokesper­son says the Fos­ter City, CA-based com­pa­ny has not with­drawn their claims to the so­fos­bu­vir com­pound patent ap­pli­ca­tion in Chi­na. Here’s the rest of the re­sponse:

This patent ap­pli­ca­tion is cur­rent­ly be­ing re­viewed by the Patent Re­view Board (PRB). Last week Chi­na’s PRB con­firmed the va­lid­i­ty of claims cov­er­ing the SOF metabo­lites. This de­ci­sion has no im­pact on our SOF com­pound patent ap­pli­ca­tion. Gilead is con­fi­dent in the in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty cov­er­ing the so­fos­bu­vir com­pound and all its he­pati­tis C med­i­cines, which bring the po­ten­tial of a cure to the vast ma­jor­i­ty of pa­tients suf­fer­ing from chron­ic he­pati­tis C virus (HCV) in­fec­tion. In the mean­time, we will con­tin­ue to work with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment to fa­cil­i­tate broad ac­cess to Gilead’s he­pati­tis C med­i­cines.

While So­val­di was launched in Chi­na at one-fifth the con­tem­po­rary price in the US — al­most $9,000 for a 12-week regime — its price still fre­quent­ly comes un­der at­tack, as it has in many oth­er coun­tries around the world. In fact, Gilead has drawn crit­i­cism ever since it be­gan sell­ing the drug at $84,000 in the US. And where­as Gilead de­signed li­cens­ing deals with gener­ic com­pa­nies in coun­tries like Ukraine, Be­larus, Thai­land and Malaysia in re­sponse to com­plaints, no such agree­ment was struck in Chi­na.

Back in 2015, two years be­fore So­val­di would be ap­proved in Chi­na, the au­thor­i­ties had re­ject­ed Gilead’s ap­pli­ca­tion for an in­ac­tive pro­drug that is me­tab­o­lized once in the body.

I-MAK, which al­so played a role in that de­ci­sion, has been bring­ing le­gal chal­lenges against Gilead in a num­ber of oth­er coun­tries, in­clud­ing the US. Its co-founder Tahir Amin told STAT that even though Gilead still holds four re­main­ing patent claims on So­val­di and da­ta ex­clu­siv­i­ty in Chi­na, they shouldn’t hin­der gener­ic mak­ers as much as this patent had.

Co­sunter, which mar­ket­ed Chi­na’s first hep B gener­ic, is said to be de­vel­op­ing a copy­cat ver­sion of So­val­di.

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His­toric drug pric­ing re­forms pass; Pfiz­er ac­quires GBT; The long search for non-opi­oid pain drugs; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

The Endpoints Weekly has officially crossed the 60,000 mark on subscribers — thanks to all of your support. As the editorial team grows, we’ve been able to do a lot more, with many of those on display this week. Be sure to check out Lei Lei Wu’s deep dive on pain R&D. If you missed it, you may also rewatch her companion panel here.

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Gold for adults, sil­ver for in­fants: Pfiz­er's Pre­vnar 2.0 head­ed to FDA months af­ter Mer­ck­'s green light

Pfizer was first to the finish line for the next-gen pneumococcal vaccine in adults, but Merck beat its rival with a jab for children in June.

Now, two months after Merck’s 15-valent Vaxneuvance won the FDA stamp of approval for kids, Pfizer is out with some late-stage data on its 20-valent shot for infants.

Known as Prevnar 20 for adults, Pfizer’s 20vPnC will head to the FDA by the end of this year for an approval request in infants, the Big Pharma said Friday morning. Discussions with the FDA will occur first and more late-stage pediatric trials are expected to read out soon, informing the regulatory pathway in other countries and regions.

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Seagen interim CEO Roger Dansey and Daiichi Sankyo CEO Sunao Manabe

Paving the way for Mer­ck­'s buy­out, Seagen los­es ar­bi­tra­tion dis­pute with Dai­ichi over ADC tech

As Seagen awaits a final buyout offer from Merck that could be in the territory of $40 billion, Seagen revealed Friday afternoon that it lost an arbitration dispute with Daiichi Sankyo relating to the companies’ 2008 collaboration around the use of antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technology.

But that loss likely won’t matter much when it comes to Merck’s deal.

After breaking off its pact with Daiichi in mid-2015, the two companies battled over “linker” tech — a chemical bridge between an ADC’s antibody component and the cytotoxic payload — that Seagen claims Daiichi would improve upon and implement in its current generation of ADCs.

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House pass­es his­toric drug pric­ing re­forms, lin­ing up decades-in-the-mak­ing win for Biden and De­moc­rats

The US House of Representatives today voted along party lines (all Dems voted for it), 220-207 to pass new, wide-ranging legislation that will allow Medicare drug price negotiations for the first time ever, and cap seniors’ drug expenses to $2,000 per year and seniors’ insulin costs at $35 per month.

Setting up a major victory for President Joe Biden, representatives returned from their summer recess to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, even as many noted the bill would only modestly reduce inflation.

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Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO via AP Images)

Sen­ate Fi­nance chair con­tin­ues his in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to phar­ma tax­es with re­quests for Am­gen

Amgen is the latest pharma company to appear on the radar of Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is investigating the way pharma companies are using subsidiaries in low- or zero-tax countries to lower their tax bills.

Like its peers Merck, AbbVie and Bristol Myers Squibb, Wyden notes how Amgen uses its Puerto Rico operations to consistently pay tax rates that are substantially lower than the U.S. corporate tax rate of 21%, with an effective tax rate of 10.7% in 2020 and 12.1% in 2021.

FDA ap­proves sec­ond in­di­ca­tion for As­traZeneca and Dai­ichi's En­her­tu in less than a week

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s antibody-drug conjugate Enhertu scored its second approval in less than a week, this time for a subset of lung cancer patients.

Enhertu received accelerated approval on Thursday to treat adults with unresectable or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have activating HER2 (ERBB2) mutations, and who have already received a prior systemic therapy.

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J&J to re­move talc prod­ucts from shelves world­wide, re­plac­ing with corn­starch-based port­fo­lio

After controversially spinning out its talc liabilities and filing for bankruptcy in an attempt to settle 38,000 lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson is now changing up the formula for its baby powder products.

J&J is beginning the transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio, the pharma giant announced on Thursday — just months after a federal judge ruled in favor of its “Texas two-step” bankruptcy to settle allegations that its talc products contained asbestos and caused cancer. An appeals court has since agreed to revisit that case.

CSL is gathering its four business units under a unified brand identity strategy (Credit: CSL company site)

CSL brings Se­qirus, Vi­for un­der par­ent um­brel­la brand in iden­ti­ty re­vamp

CSL is gathering its brands under the family name umbrella, renaming its vaccine and newly acquired nephrology specialty businesses with the parent initials.

CSL Seqirus and CSL Vifor join CSL Plasma and CSL Behring as the four now uniformly branded business units of the global biopharma. The Seqirus vaccine division was formed in 2015 with the combination of bioCSL and its purchase of Novartis’ flu vaccine business. CSL picked up Vifor Pharma late last year in an $11.7 billion deal for the nephrology, iron deficiency and cardio-renal drug developer.

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