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NatcoPharma ties up with Gilead

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NatcoPharma Ltd said on Monday it has agreed a deal with Gilead Natco_Pharma-1Sciences Inc to supply generic copies of the U.S. drugmaker’s chronic hepatitis C medicines, including $1,000-a-pill drug Sovaldi, in 91 developing nations.

Natco, a mid-sized player in India’s crowded pharmaceutical industry, is the latest generic drugmaker to team up with Gilead on Sovaldi, having previously attempted to block the U.S. firm from getting a patent for the breakthrough drug in India in the hope of producing a cheaper version on its own. In September, Gilead announced similar licensing deals with seven other generic drugmakers.

Sovaldi, chemically known as sofosbuvir, is a far more effective and better-tolerated treatment than older injection products, and racked up $1.7 billion in sales for Gilead in the fourth quarter alone.

But the firm has come under fire over the drug’s price tag, its cost presenting a huge barrier in poorer countries. About 150 million people in the world live with chronic hepatitis C infection, most of them in low- and middle-income countries.

Drugs under the deal with Natco include sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), a combination of ledipasvir and sofosbuvir – a follow-on drug called Harvoni – and a treatment known as GS-5816, which is in late-stage clinical trials, Natco said in a statement.

As with the other deals, Natco will fix its own price for the generic versions, and will pay a royalty on sales to Gilead.

Natco had earlier joined the New York-based Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK), the Delhi Network of Positive People, and privately-held BDR Pharmaceuticals International Ltd in filing opposition to a patent on Sovaldi in India.

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