Stephen Nicola - Asset, Patent, Lifesaver: The multiple ontologies of an essential drug

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Contributed date

July 31, 2019 - 7:20am

Critical Commentary

The drug sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) was launched by Gilead Sciences in 2014 and provided the 110 million people estimated to be living with Hepatitis C worldwide with an effective and potentially lifesaving treatment. However, due to its high prices and limited patient access, sofosbuvir has been at the centre of a global debate about predatory pricing in the pharmaceutical industry. A debate which led to 17 activist organisations filing oppositions to the European patents relating to sofosbuvir and simultaneously raising important questions regarding the multiple ontologies of medication. By focusing on one of the structures behind pricing – patenting – instead of the price itself, this research seeks to highlight the multiplicities and singularities involved in pharmaceutical pricing by asking how different actors view, interact and come to understand what sofosbuvir is and what effect the patent system has on these understandings.

Cite as

Stephen Nicola, "Stephen Nicola - Asset, Patent, Lifesaver: The multiple ontologies of an essential drug", contributed by , STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 31 July 2019, accessed 25 May 2022. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/stephen-nicola-asset-patent-lifesaver-multiple-ontologies-essential-drug