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Request for termination of Indian patents for remdesivir
Written by: Anastasia Tsumbal, Head of the Patent department

The Indian government is receiving inquiries for revocation of Gilead Sciences patents that protect Remdesivir medication. The purpose of the inquiries is to ensure more effective distribution of Remdesivir among patients with COVID-19, in particular, in less affluent countries.

Remdesivir is the only medication so far that has been approved by USA Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for COVID-19 treatment. However, the presence of the valid patents in the countries complicates significantly production of the generic medications that, generally, are sold at lower prices, and are more affordable for the population than original medications.

In response, Gilead Sciences has already taken some steps to increase the availability of Remdesivir by concluding non-exclusive licensing agreements for Remdesivir use with five manufacturers in India and Pakistan. However, cheap Remdesivir generics may still not be available in countries that would be considered unprofitable for sale. Due to the fact that Gilead Sciences still retains its starting positions, much less profitable markets remain for five generic companies to develop.

Thus, the initiative of the organization, such as Third World Network and India’s Cancer Patients Aid Association aims to deprive Gilead Sciences of the monopoly on Remdesivir, which lasts in India until 2035. To date, representatives of Gilead Sciences have not yet responded to this inquiry. However, the situation may end in trial, if it is not resolved peacefully. If activists succeed, there may be created a precedent for patents termination in force majeure situations, such as the fight against a global pandemic.

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