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Is Gilead drug the key to controlling the novel coronavirus?

February 13, 2020


Several years ago, drug maker Gilead Science Inc. applied for a Chinese patent for the use of Remdesivir against coronaviruses. Remdesivir was originally intended to treat Ebola but was also shown to inhibit coronaviruses, such as SARS.

Recently, scientists at the government-run Wuhan Institute of Virology, along with a military laboratory, reportedly applied to patent the use of Remdesivir to treat the specific coronavirus, Covid-19, which is being blamed for the recent outbreak.

No decision has been made regarding the Gilead patent application. However, if approved, as a member of the WTO, the Chinese government may be able to use the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement to obtain a compulsory licence for Remdesivir. If so, the Chinese government would decide, subject to any appeal, what payment Gilead would receive.

In considering the Wuhan Institute’s application, the Chinese patent office will likely have to consider issues of anticipation and obviousness.

For its part, Gilead is helping end the current crisis by working with health authorities. The company is reportedly providing Remdesivir for emergency use in clinical trials.

In vitro studies of Remdesivir and chloroquine have been published in Cell Research, stating that the mixture is effective for inhibiting Covid-19.


Author: Matthew Buck


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