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Remdesivir: Break Patent monopoly-Issue Compulsory License – CPI(M) Polit Bureau Statement

Date: Sunday, July 5, 2020

Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

Remdesivir: Break Patent monopoly-Issue Compulsory License

Gilead Sciences’ anti-viral drug Remdesivir has shown efficacy in treating Covid-19 patients. Media reports indicate that the US, which is hoarding all drugs found to be useful in combatting the Covid pandemic, has bought the entire stock of Remdesivir from Gilead for the next three months. It will therefore not be available for the rest of the world.

The price of Remdesivir in the US is $3,000 or Rs. 2.25 lakhs, for a 5-day course. Five Indian companies are in negotiations for manufacturing Remdesivir under Gilead’s license. After manufacturing in India, Remdesivir will be sold at a ‘concessional’ price of $400 or Rs. 30,000-35,000 for the same 5-day course. The cost of manufacturing Remdesivir for a full course – as worked out by experts—is less than $10 or Rs 750 in the US. And about Rs. 100 in India. Gilead, by virtue of its patent monopoly, is holding the world to ransom by asking a price that is hundreds of times its cost.

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has accelerated the approval for the use of Remdesivir in India for Covid-19 patients. But with the US buying up the entire stock of Gilead and the high cost due to its patent monopoly, Indian patients will either not get the drug, or if it is available, find the cost prohibitive.

Under Clause 92 of India’s Patent Act, in whose enactment  the Left played a pivotal role, India has the right to issue a compulsory license to manufacture the drug in India. Indian generic drug manufacturers have the ability and the will to manufacture the generic Remdesivir version. Under Clause 92A of the Patent Act, compulsory license can even be issued for export to countries that may require the drug and not have the capability to manufacture it. Given Gilead’s extortionate price for Remdesivir, the Government should immediately issue compulsory license to a number of Indian manufacturers. Given that India is one of the largest generic drug manufacturers in the world, there should be no reason why this drug cannot be made available rapidly and at affordable prices to the Indian people.

The PB of the CPI(M) calls upon the central government to immediately invoke Clause 92 of the Patent Act and issue a compulsory licence for the manufacture of the generic version of this drug, vital to save lives and effectively combat the pandemic.

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