What molecule am I?
Hepatitis C is a burgeoning disease that is still in search of a one-drug-fits-all solution. Currently, each hepatitis C virus genotype is treated with a pharmaceutical cocktail that consists of a mixture of antivirals, most of whose names end with “vir”.
Sofosbuvir is one such compound. It was discovered in 2007 by Michael Sofia at Pharmasset (now part of Gilead Sciences) and approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration in 2013. The FDA approval was for the combination of sofosbuvir and ribavirin, an antiviral that dates back to 1972. Sofosbuvir is the active ingredient in Gilead’s products Sovaldi and Harvoni, ads for which you may have seen on TV.
Sofosbuvir was the subject of a high-profile patent lawsuit involving Gilead and drug giant Merck. Merck contended that sofosbuvir was patterned after a patent awarded to Idenix Pharmaceuticals, a company that Merck had acquired. After a series of trials, a federal jury ordered Gilead to pay Merck US$2.54 billion (that’s right, billion) for infringing the Idenix patent.
Gilead appealed; and this past February, the judge in a US district court overturned the award, writing that the Idenix patent was too broad and that a skilled chemist could not easily derive sofosbuvir from the information in the patent. For the same reason, the judge invalidated the patent.
Merck has vowed to appeal the overturn ruling.
Learn more about this molecule from CAS, the most authoritative and comprehensive source for chemical information.