Health Groups Call on India to Rescind Gilead Patents to Redirect Covid-19 Drugs

NEW DELHI: Two health advocacy groups have written to the Indian government asking it to terminate patents granted to Gilead Sciences for the drug so that it can be more fairly distributed to coronavirus patients worldwide, particularly in the more nations. poor.

Drug patents in India are an important topic as many countries rely on generic drug manufacturers to manufacture and sell cheaper versions of critical drugs. Gilead's three patents in India for remdesivir come from 2009 when the drug was in development to treat Ebola.

Remdesivir is the only drug approved to treat patients with Covid-19 after early trial results encouraged US regulators to grant an emergency use authorization on May 2. To expand its access, Gilead said this week that it had signed non-exclusive licensing pacts with five generic drug manufacturers. headquartered in India and Pakistan, allowing them to manufacture and sell remdesivir for 127 countries.

But health access groups say the pacts mean that the cheapest forms of the drug may not be available in nations deemed unprofitable for the five drug makers.

Licenses divide the global market in two, and profitable markets are retained with Gilead, and less profitable markets are awarded to the five generic companies, said K. Gopakumar, senior legal researcher at the Third World Network, who sent a letter to the Indian government. on Wednesday.

The letter from the Third World Network, a Malaysian-based nonprofit group, followed a similar appeal by the Association for Aid to Cancer Patients of India last week.

Aid group Doctors Without Borders has also opposed Gilead's patents on remdesivir, saying such licensing pacts are not acceptable in the midst of a global health emergency.

Gilead's patents on remdesivir in India allow it to exclusively manufacture and sell the drug in the country until 2035, unless you license those rights.

Gilead's spokeswoman in India and India's ministries of trade and health did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

The Cancer Aid Association of India said it could take legal action, noting that cancer patients have compromised immunity and are highly susceptible to the virus.

It is imperative at a time like this that monopoly rights are not granted, so that more manufacturers can produce the drug to make it available to everyone who needs it, at affordable costs, he said.

Except for remdesivir, there are currently no other drugs or vaccines approved to combat the coronavirus, which has killed more than 200,000 people worldwide.