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An advocacy group asked the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate whether a key hepatitis C patent held by Gilead Sciences (GILD) failed to disclose federal funding for grants that were used to develop the blockbuster Sovaldi treatment.

In making its request, the advocacy group cited a federal database purportedly showing a patent awarded to Pharmasset, which developed Sovaldi, had received funding from the National Institutes of Health for four grants. The grants were provided between 2003 and 2006, and the patent was issued in June 2011, a few months before Gilead bought Pharmasset for $11 billion.


Such a failure could have far-reaching implications for the drug maker and hepatitis C patients, because federal law would permit the government to take title to the patent. In its March 14 letter, the advocacy group suggested such a move might allow the government to reach a marketing agreement with the company that could, ultimately, lead to lower prices for public and private payers.

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