[Ip-health] After India, MSF Challenges Pfizer’s Monopoly on Lifesaving Pneumonia Vaccine in Korea

leena menghaney leenamenghaney at gmail.com
Tue Feb 6 01:24:55 PST 2018


Dear All,

After challenging Pfizer’ s patent on the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
(PCV13) in India, Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF)/ Doctors without Borders
has now filed the petition in the Supreme Court of South Korea to review
the patent Korea granted to Pfizer for the vaccine.  These challenges bring
attention to the global fight to overturn Pfizer’s unmerited patents on the
pneumonia vaccine and increase competition worldwide. Both India and South
Korea have manufacturers who have PCV13 in development and can supply more
affordable pneumonia vaccines. The equivalent patent on PCV13 has already
been revoked by the European Patent Office and China’s State Intellectual
Property Office as it was considered unmerited as it did not meet the
inventive step criteria.

Please see below press statement from MSF being released today.


Warm Regards, Leena Menghaney

MSF Challenges Pfizer’s Monopoly on Lifesaving Pneumonia Vaccine in Korea

Doctors Without Borders urges Pfizer to drop unmerited patents that hinder
access to lifesaving childhood vaccine worldwide



NEW YORK/SEOUL, FEBRUARY 6, 2018—The international medical humanitarian
organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is in
the process of submitting a legal petition to the Supreme Court of South
Korea requesting to review the patent granted to US pharmaceutical
corporation Pfizer for its pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). On
November 29, 2017, the Patent Court of Korea upheld the patent granted to
Pfizer for its PCV13 product, marketed as Prevnar13. Unmerited patents like
this are a barrier for people, governments, and treatment providers like
MSF trying to protect children against pneumonia—a disease that kills
almost one million kids every year or 2,500 per day.

This action before the Supreme Court of South Korea is the latest in a
global fight to overturn Pfizer’s unmerited patents on PCV13 and increase
competition worldwide by allowing manufacturers to develop and market more
affordable PCV13, which would pave the way to protecting more children from
this deadly disease. MSF began challenging Pfizer’s unmerited patent in
Korea last year after the same patent was revoked by the European Patent
Office (EPO). Pfizer’s patent is also being legally challenged in India.

High-priced pneumonia vaccines and the lack of global competition are a
significant part of why it is now 68 times more expensive to vaccinate a
child with the full package of WHO-recommended vaccines than in 2001. In
fact, high prices charged by the only two companies that produce the
vaccine are largely the reason approximately one-third of countries have
not been able to introduce the pneumonia vaccine in their standard
vaccination package and protect their children from a deadly but
preventable disease. Right now, many countries rely on Gavi, the Vaccine
Alliance, to support vaccinating their children, though more than twenty
countries worldwide—and millions of children—are scheduled to lose their
eligibility for this funding in the next several years.

“Doctors and nurses at MSF see each and every day the effects of
high-priced pneumonia vaccines and the needless deaths that result from
excessive profits taking precedent over public health.” said MSF-Korea
General Director Thierry Coppens. “South Korea is well-positioned to
produce affordable and quality pneumonia vaccine that could save the lives
of vulnerable children all over the world, however Pfizer’s patent and
global monopoly stands in the way of other vaccine developers that want to
make and sell more affordable vaccines.”

Allowing multiple manufacturers to make and sell pneumonia vaccines would
make it possible for more countries and treatment providers like MSF to
secure affordable vaccines.

“In our work, we see many children with life-threatening respiratory
infections; many deaths could be prevented if more kids were vaccinated
with PCV,” said Dr. Anas Shorman, a pediatrician working for MSF in Jordan.
“More than 50 countries have spoken out against high vaccine prices, and
children in countries like Indonesia, Jordan, and Tunisia simply can’t wait
any longer to get access to the lifesaving pneumonia vaccine.”

In India—known as the “pharmacy of the developing world”—MSF is challenging
a patent on the same vaccine (the hearing is scheduled for next month). The
current patent means Indian producers aren’t allowed to manufacture
alternative versions of PCV13 until 2026.

“India’s patent office is constantly facing pressure from pharmaceutical
corporations,” said Leena Menghaney, who is representing MSF before the
Indian patent office and courts. “The patent just encourages evergreening,
which, in this case, is the mere addition of serotypes to the
already-established seven-valent vaccine and does not involve a technical
advancement; it is just a way to preserve Pfizer’s monopoly until 2026.
What’s being forgotten by patent offices that are often far removed from
patients on the ground is that catering to pharma’s demands for more
frivolous patents is a direct barrier to getting lifesaving medicines and
vaccines in the hands of people all across the developing world.”



Editor’s Notes:

While challenges are ongoing in South Korea and India, an equivalent patent
on PCV13 has already been revoked by the European Patent Office and China’s
State Intellectual Property Office as it was considered unmerited as it did
not meet the inventive step criteria.

South Korea initially rejected Pfizer’s PCV13 patent in 2012 but later
granted it after the US corporation re-submitted the application. The
patent was later opposed by a Korean vaccine producer before the Patent
Court of Korea. Typically, the Supreme Court of South Korea takes between
three to nine months to make a decision after it hears the case. The court
can either uphold the patent or send the decision back to the Patent Court
of Korea for reconsideration. Last year, MSF filed an amicus brief in
support of revoking Pfizer’s patent given the global implications.

The amicus brief filed by MSF can be accessed here:

https://www.patentoppositions.org/en/drugs/pneumococcal-conjugate-vaccine/patent_oppositions/5908670bfb1640400b000000
















--
Leena Menghaney
Mobile: 9811365412


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