Gilead looks to make Remdesivir available globally

Mumbai | New Delhi: Gilead Science Inc has said it is working to build a global consortium of pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturers in North America, Europe and Asia to expand global capacity and production of remdesivir, the drug that has shown a shortening of recovery time for Covid-19 patients.

In India, people familiar with the development said the company is in discussions with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Cipla, Jubilant Lifesciences, and Strides Pharmaceuticals for granting them voluntary licences for manufacturing the drug.

A Jubilant official declined to comment.

“We do not comment on market speculations,” a spokesperson of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories said. The other two firms did not reply to ET’s queries.

“In the event of regulatory action, we are in discussions with various groups about how we might bring remdesivir to the developing world,” Venus Tsang, senior director, public affairs, Asia-Gilead told ET in an emailed statement.

The company said it is aware of proposals for manufacturers to license their intellectual property under various pooled arrangements.

“We will carefully consider whether these proposals would benefit the amount of supply or the speed at which it is made available once we understand the details of such proposals,” Tsang said.


Preferred Model

Tsang added that Gilead would look at ways to potentially bring the treatment to a broader patient population by investigating other formulations and means of delivery. At present, remdesivir is given to patients through intravenous infusion.

One of the most watched drug for the treatment of Covid-19, remdesivir last week received an emergency approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), making it the first authorised therapy for the virus that has paralysed life in large parts of the world and caused the death of nearly quarter million people.

The USFDA’s approval is based on trial results that showed that the drug reduced the recovery time from 10 to 5 days for moderate patients. However, the data on patient mortality remained clinically insignificant. “We are aware that Gilead is in discussions with Indian generic companies for granting voluntary licences,” said a government official.

The US drugmaker had struck similar partnerships with Indian pharma companies four years ago when it had launched its novel therapy for treatment of Hepatitis C called sofosbuvir. Granting voluntary licences is the Gilead’s preferred model in developing countries.

Legal experts are of the view that in a pandemic situation, drug companies will, as it is, prefer to make their treatment accessible rather than run the risk of countries invoking the compulsory licensing provision to allow third-party production without the patent holder’s consent.

“There is a risk in a pandemic that India may invoke ‘government non-commercial use’ which is TRIPS compliant. The only way to overcome this potential risk is for Gilead to issue voluntary licences to make the drug widely available,” said Murali Neelakantan, a Healthcare lawyer.

It will be essential for the countries to work together to create enough supply for people all over the world and we look forward to the collaborative efforts, Gilead said. The company has not yet revealed the price of the drug.

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