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Last Wednesday's decision paves the way for increased access to more affordable sofosbuvir in India and other countries who choose to implement legal flexibilities available under international law to increase access to the drug.
However, existing patents on sofosbuvir in South Africa could block access to the cheaper generic versions that will become available due to the ruling.
The government should therefore urgently finalize the national intellectual property policy to allow South Africa to better protect access to medicines.
Hepatitis C is a curable disease that affects over 185 million people and leads to nearly half a million deaths worldwide each year. As many as one million people in South Africa may be infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Sofosbuvir has fewer side effects, is easier for patients to take, and has higher cure rates than existing treatments.