Issue compulsory licences for manufacture of an affordable generic version of Remdesivir, CPI(M) tells govt.

With U.S. buying up stocks, “Indian patients will either not get it or find it cost prohibitive”

July 05, 2020 05:30 pm | Updated 05:40 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A vial of the drug remdesivir is inspected at a Gilead manufacturing site in the U.S. (Representational image.)

A vial of the drug remdesivir is inspected at a Gilead manufacturing site in the U.S. (Representational image.)

The Polit Bureau of the CPI (Marxist) on Sunday said the government should issue compulsory licences for the manufacture of a generic version of Remdesivir , an anti-viral drug being used to treat COVID-19 patients.

In a statement, it said the government should invoke Clause 92 of the Patent Act that allows it to issue compulsory licences so that Indian manufacturers can produce a more affordable generic version.

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“Gilead Sciences’ anti-viral drug Remdesivir has shown efficacy in treating COVID-19 patients. Media reports indicate that the U.S., which is hoarding all drugs found to be useful in combating the 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 statement said.

The statement said while the price of the drug was ₹2.25 lakh or $3,000 in the U.S., Indian companies were in talks for manufacturing under a Gilead’s licence for sale at ₹30,000-₹35,000.

“Gilead holding world to ransom”

“The cost of manufacturing Remdesivir for a full course — as worked out by experts — is less than $10 or ₹750 in the U.S. And about ₹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,” it said.

The statement said while the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) had sped up the approval process for using Remdesivir, with the U.S. buying up the stocks and the high cost, “Indian patients will either not get the drug, or if it is available, find the cost prohibitive”.

“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,” it said.

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