Covid-19 drug rationed in the US is plentiful in developing countries

Wed, Sep 9, 2020

Paths to increase remdesivir supply in the US.

Kabir, the physician in Bangladesh, said his hospital has had plenty of remdesivir because they're purchasing generic versions of the drug.
Doctors from other developing countries said their hospitals are also using generics.
"We have enough remdesivir in our country," said Dr. Bilal Aziz, an assistant professor of medicine at King Edward Medical University in Lahore, Pakistan.
"We don't have any shortages," said Dr. Endymion Tan, an infectious disease specialist at Metropolitan Medical Center in Manila in the Philippines.

Several companies make generic remdesivir, including Beximco Pharmaceuticals in Bangladesh.
"We can make more. We're currently producing around 80,000 vials per month, and we have capacity and capability to produce up to 150,000 per month," said Rabbur Reza, Beximco's chief operating officer.
But only Gilead is allowed to sell remdesivir in the US. There are no generics, and Gilead has no competition.
Christopher Morten, a patent law expert at NYU School of Law, said the Trump administration could change that if they wanted to.
Morten said the administration could exercise a law that allows the government to "open up" patents so that Gilead could still profit from the drug, but other companies would be allowed to make generic versions of it.
"The US government always has the power to -- to put it colloquially -- break patents when those patents stand in the way of competition, and Gilead is guaranteed fair compensation under the same law, so Gilead would still make a lot of money," said Morten, deputy director of NYU Law's Technology Law and Policy Clinic.
He said in the case of remdesivir, he believes the government has a second option as well.
The US can legitimately claim to be the co-owner of the patents for remdesivir, since government funding and expertise went into making it, according to a paper coauthored by Morten and James Krellenstein, co-founder of the COVID Working Group NYC.
"I believe that the US government co-invented and co-owns the most important patents on remdesivir," Morten said.
Gilead disagrees, and so does HHS.

"There are many patents for remdesivir, and the U.S. Government has participated in the research for some of these patents. The U.S. Government is not listed as a co-inventor on any of the current remdesivir patents," according to the statement from the HHS spokesperson.
Now the US Government Accountability Office is investigating that very issue.



Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/09/health/covid-remdesivir-us-vs-other-countries/index.html

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