The CPI(M) has called upon the government to invoke Clause 92 of the Patents Act and issue compulsory license to manufacturers to produce the generic version of Remdesivir used for treating coronavirus patients, given that the drug was too “expensive” for common people.
A statement by the Left party said the government should work towards breaking the patent monopoly of Gilead Sciences, and accused the company of holding the world to ransom by asking a price hundreds of times its cost.
It said while Gilead Sciences’ anti-viral drug Remdesivir has shown efficacy in treating coronavirus patients, media reports indicated that the US has bought the entire stock of the drug from the company for the next three months.
It also said that the price of Remdesivir in the United States is USD 3,000 or Rs 2.25 lakh for a five-day course.
Five Indian companies are in negotiations for manufacturing Remdesivir under Gilead’s license. After manufacturing in India, Remdesivir will be sold at a “concessional” price of USD 400 or Rs 30,000-35,000 for the same five-day course, the party said in the statement.
“The cost of manufacturing Remdesivir for a full course as worked out by experts is less than USD 10 or Rs 750 in the US, and about Rs 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,” the statement said.
It also said that the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has accelerated the approval for the use of Remdesivir in India for COVID-19 patients.
“But with the US buying up the entire stock of Gilead and the high cost due to its patent monopoly, Indian patients will either not get the drug, or if it is available, find the cost prohibitive.
“Under Clause 92 of India’s Patents Act, in whose enactment, the Left played a pivotal role, India has the right to issue a compulsory license to manufacture the drug in India. Indian generic drug manufacturers have the ability and the will to manufacture the generic Remdesivir version,” the party said. “Under Clause 92A of the Patents Act, compulsory license can even be issued for export to countries that may require the drug and not have the capability to manufacture it. Given Gilead’s extortionate price for Remdesivir, the government should immediately issue compulsory license to a number of Indian manufacturers,” it added.