The Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA) has written to the Health Ministry to revoke the Indian patent on Remdesivir, a potential anti-viral drug under testing for coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) patients. Remdesivir is produced by Gilead Life Sciences.
The efficacy of the drug in curing extremely sick COVID-19 patients, particularly those requiring ventilator assistance, is still being investigated. The CPAA said the patent on the drug would make it unaffordable and this would include cancer patients who are at heightened risk of complications from the viral infection.
The CPAA provides for the treatment and rehabilitation of cancer patients. The Indian patent on Remdesivir was granted as recently as February 18. The Association said the patent ought to be revoked not only on the grounds that it could incentivise other manufacturers to make the drug and offer it cheaply but also on the grounds that the drug wasn’t “novel.”
“We urge you to revoke the patent No. 332280 granted in A.No.’821 under Section 66 of the Patents Act, 1970, in public interest, immediately. In any event, we have cogent grounds to state that the said application ought not to have been granted a patent as it lacks novelty and inventive step, and that the learned Controller erred in not taking cognizance of the prior art available in the public domain,” the CPAA letter noted.
The Office of the Controller of Patents is the Indian body responsible for granting patents. The government has the authority to revoke a patent on a drug if it deems it to be essential.
Several drugs are in the clinical trial stage, and combination drugs used to treat HIV — Lopinavir and Ritonavir (Kaletra) — are also being tested to combat the SARS-Cov2 virus that causes COVID-19. Drugs that are useful in the treatment of RNA (ribonucleic acid) viruses, like hepatitis C (HCV), HIV, Ebola, etc. are being tested as treatment regimens for COVID-19.
“While there are no antiviral data for remdesivir that show activity against 2019-nCoV at this time, available data in other coronaviruses give us hope. Remdesivir has demonstrated in vitro and in vivo activity in animal models against the viral pathogens MERS and SARS, which are coronaviruses that are structurally similar to 2019-nCoV. There are also limited clinical data available from the emergency use of remdesivir in the treatment of patients with Ebola virus infection,” a statement from Gilead Life Sciences notes.