Public health, innovation, intellectual property and trade

WHO updates patent information on treatments for Hepatitis C

World Hepatitis Alliance

New medicines on the market have given hope to the millions of people who suffer from Hepatitis C, a liver disease that kills approximately 700,000 people annually.

In 2016, the World Health Assembly, WHO's policy-making body, endorsed the Global health sector strategy on viral hepatitis 2016-2021 that requests WHO to “advocate for comprehensive strategies to reduce prices of viral hepatitis vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and other commodities”.

WHO works closely with Member States to assess and promote policy options for increasing access to these medicines, which remain unaffordable to many of those who need them and put an enormous financial strain even on the health systems of high-income countries.

Knowledge of the patent status of new medicines is important for governments who are trying to make those medicines available to their populations. To that end, WHO has carried out an analysis of the patent situation for seven of the new treatments, including sofosbuvir, ledipasvir and daclatasvir, all of which have been included in the WHO List of Essential Medicines in 2015. The reports provide clarity on whether the medicines are patent protected or not in individual countries.

The dataset was completed for more than 40 countries, territories and regions.