The coronavirus pandemic has killed over 3,00,000 people globally, and several Drugmakers are racing to develop a viable treatment or vaccine to combat the outbreak.
With no other approved treatment for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus have paved a way to show more interest towards Remdesivir. A vaccine which is currently spiking. To this end, Gilead Sciences Inc has signed a non-exclusive licensing pact with five Generic Drugmakers to expand the supply of its experimental COVID-19 treatment Remdesivir.
This agreement allows the Cipla Limited, Ferozsons Laboratories, Hetero Labs Ltd, Jubilant Lifesciences, and Mylan to manufacture the Drug which has been developed by Gilead Sciences in the US under patent protection until 2035. Gilead has named the Drug, under the brand name “Veklury”
“The licenses are royalty-free until the World Health Organization declares the end of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding COVID-19, or until a pharmaceutical product other than Remdesivir or a vaccine is approved to treat or prevent Covid-19, whichever is earlier,” Gilead said.
As per Gilead’s press release, the agreement allows five companies to produce and sell generic Remdesivir in a host of countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Ukraine. Among others.
India – A Leadership Position!
At present, India contributes more than 20 percent by value to the global generic markets, and by volume — supplies more than 40 percent of United States’ drugs. Indian Pharma holds a 15 percent share in the world market and the drugs have been exported to more than 120 countries in the world.
Also, India co-sponsored a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly. It called for fair, transparent and equitable access to essential medical Supplies and any future vaccines for the coronavirus.
Remdesivir in India – Will it really help us?
Indian medical science and drug control authorities will have to first decide how they want to use the drug on patients. A senior scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said that it will consider using the drug if Indian firms are able to make it.
As per Gilead, for patients in India, they have enrolled in the Solidarity trial of WHO.
“India is part of the large global study designed by the WHO – the Solidarity trial. This trial is the best way for patients to access remdesivir, enabling access to remdesivir and collecting data to inform the use of this investigational compound and support potential regulatory approvals that can enable broader use of remdesivir,”
Challenges foreseen for Remdesivir
The BBC’s Health and Science news quotes saying “It is also not clear who is benefiting from the drug and poses a few questions”.
Is it allowing people who would have recovered anyway to do so more quickly? Or is it preventing people from needing treatment in intensive care? Did the drug work better in younger or older people? Or those with or without other diseases? Do patients have to be treated early when the virus is thought to peak in the body?
And the major challenges would be production of the drug as it requires scarce raw materials, with their own lengthy production time, and specialized manufacturing capabilities with limited global capacity. Any disruption to the supply chain impacting these scarce raw materials and other manufacturing inputs could reduce the amount of Remdesivir produced and increase the time it takes to do so.