As the pandemic of COVID-19 continues to spread, options for effective treatment are being explored. One drug that has been mentioned by the WHO as potentially effective is Remdesivir, produced by pharmaceutical corporation Gilead Science. It is currently being investigated in clinical trials. If Remdesivir is found to be effective, it could save many lives. But how rapidly it is available and at what price will be critical factors to combat the pandemic and save lives.
Bank of America analysts estimate Gilead could earn up to 2 billion dollars through sale of the drug.
PSI joined more than 150 civil society organisations and individuals including Médecins sans frontières, Oxfam, the Asian People's Movement on Debt and Development, Forum for Trade Justice (India), Transnational Institute, War on Want (UK) and Public Eye (Switzerland) who have signed an open letter to Gilead expressing concerns that the pharmaceutical corporation’s approach to the medicine Remdesivir may hinder access for those who need it.
Presently, Gilead holds primary patents of Remdesivir in more than 70 countries that may block generic entry until 2031. Bank of America analysts estimate Gilead could earn up to 2 billion dollars through sale of the drug.
But human lives are more important than corporate profits. We therefore urge Gilead to take immediate actions to:
Declare that Gilead will not enforce and claim exclusive rights on patents, regulatory and trial data and any other types of exclusivity anywhere in the world
Make publicly available, all data, sample products and know-how that are needed for generic development and for regulatory processes, to facilitate the ability of production and supply by generic manufacturers worldwide
Improve transparency by disclosing its manufacturing capacity and existing supply and allow independent and proper governance over the allocation of the treatment according to medical needs.
An exclusivity and monopoly-based approach will fail the world in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Gilead must act in the public’s interests now.
We urge Gilead to commit to forego enforcing or claiming patents and other proprietary rights on Remdesivir, and to enable the production and supply of the medicine by generic manufacturers in order to ensure its worldwide availability, accessibility and affordability, should the drug’s efficacy be demonstrated by the ongoing clinical trials.