Jury finds for Merck in hepatitis drug fight with Gilead

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

A federal jury in California has ruled in favor of drugmaker Merck in a high-stakes lawsuit against rival Gilead Sciences concerning patents for lucrative new drugs for hepatitis C.

Merck accused Gilead of infringing on patents it filed over a decade ago, claiming Gilead's sofosbuvir infringes on those patents. Sofosbuvir is the active ingredient in Gilead's Sovaldi and a component of its Harvoni, which together brought in $19.1 billion last year. That's nearly two-thirds of total revenue for the Foster City, California, biotech company.

The jury ruled Merck's patents are valid, sending the case to a new phase to decide damages.

Merck won U.S. approval on Jan. 28 for its own hepatitis C drug, Zepatier, and priced it well under Harvoni's list price of $94,000 per treatment course.