US based Gilead Sciences is likely to announce voluntary licence agreements with Indian medicine manufacturers to allow them to produce generic versions of Remdesivir, an experimental drug that is looked at as a potential candidate for the treatment of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) treatments. Mumbai based Cipla and Hyderabad based Dr Reddy's Laboratories are among the companies that could sign partnership agreements with Gilead, industry sources say.
The drug, undergoing clinical trials globally at the moment, is yet to be approved for COVID-19 treatment. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had hinted that if the medicine proves effective, and if cost effective versions of the medicine can be made available through Indian generic companies, then it can be considered for treating COVID-19 patients in India too.
Recently, Mumbai-based civil society organisation Cancer Patent Aid Association (CPAA) had written to the government demanding the revocation of one of the patents on Remdesivir, citing India's strict innovative step and novelty requirements as eligibility criteria. The experimental drug, however, has a couple of undisputed patents also in India.
On April 10, Daniel O' Day, chairman and CEO, Gilead had stated that seven clinical trials are going on to determine whether Remdesivir is a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19 at the moment. The company anticipates that by May, the initial data from the placebo-controlled NIAID trial as well as data from the Gilead study of patients with moderate symptoms of COVID-19 will be available.
While the company has not said anything about its voluntary licensing plans, it has stated that it has supplemented its internal manufacturing with significant additional capacity from multiple manufacturing partners in North America, Europe and Asia. "Looking ahead, we are building a geographically diverse consortium of pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing companies to help us meet and exceed these production goals by expanding capacity for raw materials and production beyond what any company could do individually," the company has stated.
Gilead is also on record on its plans to implement 'expanded access programs as quickly as possible to help the most critically ill patients around the world'.
Company officials were not immediately available for comments.