China today revoked Gilead's patent to the AIDS drug Viread in China. In a move similar to recent happenings in India, China has declared the patent invalid -- and not granted a compulsory license -- but opened the drug up to manufacture by anyone in the country who can. The rationale cited was the drug lacked novelty.
While this might be a somewhat special case, as the drug is very old having been discoverd in 1985, and is for the treatment of AIDS which is a big problem, it still represents an instance where a patent is being disqualified. Presumably, this is motivated in large degree to make this important AIDS treatment more affordable for the populace in China. But it does so in a sweeping way, as it completely bypassed the compulsory license route and went straight to nullification of the patent.
Gilead had already agreed to lower pricing, and had made its patents available in a pool with generic drugmakers from several countries. China decided not to participate though. Apparently, in this case, they will opt to just take the drug and make it. Stay tuned for more drug wars. See Pharmalot.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Aug 6th 2013.