Gilead Against Merck In Heated Rivalry Over Patent Dispute Case
Gilead has sued Merck after being asked for the royalty payment.
Gilead Sciences has faced a significant threat from rival Merck & Co. ever since Merck got FDA regulatory approval for Zepatier; its once-daily single-tablet HCV combo pill. It has been speculated that in the forthcoming years, Zepatier will limit Gilead’s market share. Amidst all this, both companies had a face off in court on Monday in order to settle the patent dispute in connection with the propriety interest in sofosbuvir – a chief compound used in the formation of Gilead’s flagship drug, Sovaldi and Harvoni.
In 2013, the patent battle spurted out in the federal court of San Jose. The Californian biotech titan sued Merck after it was asked for the royalty payment on Sovaldi just after Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it for HCV treatment. On Monday, the opening statement revealed that the subject compound has indirectly been under research and development of the company since 2001, which tentatively made a year before Merck even received its patent rights. Juanita Brooks, lawyer of Gilead Sciences, told the jury that it acquired the compound after making $11 billion acquisition of Pharmasset in 2001.
In its defense, Bruce Genderson, Merck’s attorney, waived off Gilead’s claims and told the jury that it was indeed Merck, which came up with the compound “before it was ever even a figment of the imagination at Pharmasset” and had its patent published in 2002.
Since its launch in December 2013, the Sovaldi drug – having subject compound in its formulation – had enabled the company to have unprecedented growth and success. Over the past three years, the profit of company raised by almost seven times. Available at the exorbitant price of $1,000 per pill the drug, within 12-24 weeks of treatment, guarantees 90% cure rates for the liver disease. Within a year, in October 2014, the company introduced an advanced drug under the name Harvoni which substantially lower the treatment span to as low as 8 weeks. The new advanced drug also came with a hefty price of $94,500 for a 12-week treatment.
After the introduction of the two new drugs, the requirement of the side effect-ridden peginterferon administration was waived off. In 2015, the HCV cures transitioned into the fastest-selling pharmaceutical products. It sales generated $19 billion for the Californian based organization and, since Sovaldi’s launch in particular, almost $31.7 billion. In the event where the court hearing rules against Gilead then it will be liable to pay the royalties totaling 10% of the amount it has generated from sofosbuvir till data. Such amount has been calculated to be $3 billion.
However, the impending case did not turn the investors and analysts away from the company.