All-Ukrainian Network of PLHIV continues to struggle for affordable LPV/r

lopinavirNetwork of people living with HIV submits second opposition to patent on essential HIV drug in Ukraine

On 30 January 2017, the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (the Network) submitted a patent invalidation claim to Kiev’s Commercial Court with the aim of cancelling a patent currently protecting the lopinavir/ritonavir combination (LPV/r), an essential drug used for HIV treatment.

This patent opposition submitted is in addition to a previous invalidation claim filed by the Network for the same medicine. The Network claims that the first patent submitted by Abbvie, on the basis of combining two old drugs, does not comply with the novelty and inventive step requirements set forth by the law.

Both patents currently provide a monopoly for Abbvie on the LPV/r combination drug in Ukraine. The second patent relates to the treatment method for administering the medicine. If not revoked this would extend the current monopoly by an approximate 1.5 years as it was filed to Ukraine’s patent and trademark office after the combination patent. Such a tactic is known as evergreening and is often used by pharmaceutical companies in order to extend their monopolies.

As both the opposed patents relate to the same medicine the Network requested the court consider both invalidation claims simultaneously. This was agreed, and in response, the defendant (Abbvie) asked to postpone court proceedings for time to familiarize themselves with the second patent opposition. The next court hearing had been scheduled for 20 February 2017.

“We believe that the opposed patent covering HIV method treatment is a typical evergreening patent,” says  Mykyta Trofymenko, Intellectual Property Counsel at the Network.

“It doesn’t contribute sufficiently to human knowledge and science, however, it provides the patent-holder with an opportunity to keep extending their monopoly on LPV/r in Ukraine. This situation should be changed promptly and that is the reason why the Network decided put forward the invalidation claim.”

If the Network manages to invalidate both patents it will result in a reduction on the cost of the medicine, and a significant increase in access to HIV treatment in Ukraine. This medicine is the most commonly used antiretroviral in Ukraine.

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