Expert alert: US buys up Gilead’s stock of COVID-19 drug remdesivir

Dr Farasat Bokhari is an Associate Professor in the School of Economics and Centre for Competition Policy. A health economist with a background in applied microeconomics, industrial organization, and a specialization in health policy, Dr. Bokhari’s research interests include competition, antitrust, and technologies in hospital and pharmaceutical industries.

Commenting on the news that the US has bought nearly all of Gilead's Covid-19 drug remdesivir, Dr Bokhari said hopefully other companies will be able to "step up" and provide supplies in other parts of the world. 

“Gilead provided free licences to several generic makers back in May to produce and distribute Remdesivir. These included Mylan as well as other generic makers in Pakistan and India," said Dr Bokhari.

"The licenses are royalty free for now and firms are free to set their own prices and export to another 127 countries. Hopefully these companies will be able to step up and provide supplies through-out the world.  

“Even other firms who did not receive a license from Gilead may start making the drug.  For instance, Bangladesh based Beximco is already producing Remdesivir and Pakistan based Searle is importing from them.

"Beximco is producing the drug without licence from Gilead under the provisions of the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS agreement (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) that allow authorities in least developed countries to issue `compulsory licence’ under certain situations. 

"They can also export to other countries, but the patent holder is still entitled to a payment.  Other non-LCD nations are also considering compulsory licensing and have introduced such bills.

“Remdesivir is not likely to be needed for all COVID-19 patients. But if you are worried that you or a loved one will need this drug and it won’t be available if you are not in the US, I don’t think that will be the case, and I certainly hope not, as manufacturers in other countries are going to ramp up production. The only issue is how fast they can do it.”


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