In a setback for Gilead Sciences (GILD), Chinese authorities have rejected a key patent for its Sovaldi hepatitis C medicine, opening the door to generic versions of the groundbreaking pill a few years sooner than might have occurred otherwise.

The decision emerges from an ongoing effort by different advocacy groups to challenge Gilead patents for its hepatitis C medicines around the world in hopes of widening access. Although Gilead’s hepatitis C drugs have revolutionized treatment, they have also strained budgets, especially among cash-strapped governments with large numbers of citizens who are infected with the virus.

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