University Of Minnesota Sues Multibillion-Dollar Drug Maker
The University of Minnesota is suing a specialty pharmaceutical company over claims that it infringed upon a patented drug and then produced and sold a medication used to cure patients of Hepatitis C.
The drug in question—sofosbuvir—is a key component in the brand name medications Sovaldi, Harvoni and Epclusa, which are owned by Foster City, California-based Gilead Sciences.
In its lawsuit filed Monday, the University of Minnesota said, “Gilead has reaped tens of billions of dollars in sales of those drugs, without the University’s authorization and without compensating the University.”
The school is demanding a jury trial. Although it did not specify how much money it was seeking, the University did state it was looking to be awarded “all damages adequate to compensate it for Gilead’s infringement, in no event less than a reasonable royalty,” as well as the cost of its legal fees.
In a statement, Gilead said it “strongly believes that it has the sole right to commercialize sofosbuvir in the U.S.” Furthermore, the company said it believes the University’s patent was “invalid” and that it has the right to sell its medications used to treat Hepatitis C.
According to court filings, Gilead was aware of the University’s patent at least as early as June 2015. At that time, the school had informed Gilead about the patent and then the next month provided actual notice of Gillead’s alleged infringement. In August 2015, the University met in person with Gilead, although nothing changed as the school said Gilead continued to sell the drug with “willful and deliberate” intent.
Due to the work of Dr. Carston Wagner, the University’s endowed chair in medicinal chemistry, the school received the sofosbuvir patent in August 2014. Notably, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave approval to Sovaldi in December 2013. Gilead’s other two medications were approved at later dates—Harvoni in October 2014 and Epclusa in June 2016.
Gilead is one of a growing number of pharmaceutical companies accused of price gauging, or the act of charging an unusually high price for its products. For instance, the company’s Sovaldi medication costs $1,000 a pill, according to the Chicago Tribune, whereas Sovaldi’s Indian counterpart is said to cost only $4.