Millennium Post

CPI(M) tells Centre to issue compulsory licence for Remdesivir's generic version

New Delhi: Concern over the availability of Remdesivir, a key drug approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for treating COVID-19 infections, the Polit Bureau of the CPI (Marxist) on Sunday told the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to issue compulsory licences for the manufacture of a generic version of the anti-viral drug being used to treat COVID-19 patients.

The CPI(M) has raised the issue after the US bought all the stocks of Remdesivir for the next three months as it would result into the non-availability of the key drug for Indian patients and if they get it, they have to buy it at an exorbitant price.

In a statement, the CPI(M) Polit Bureau said that the government should invoke Clause 92 of the Patent Act that allows it to issue compulsory licences so that Indian manufacturers can produce a more affordable generic version.

"Gilead Sciences' anti-viral drug Remdesivir has shown efficacy in treating COVID-19 patients. Media reports indicate that the US, which is hoarding all drugs found to be useful in combating the pandemic, has bought the entire stock of Remdesivir from Gilead for the next three months. It will therefore not be available for the rest of the world," the CPI(M) said in its statement issued on Sunday.

The CPI(M) further said, "Even though the cost of manufacturing Remdesivir for a full course of five days — as worked out by experts — is less than $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 as at present the price of the drug for the five-day full course stands at Rs 2.25 lakh or $3,000 in the US."

Notably, the Indian drug-makers are in talks for manufacturing the anti-viral drug under a Gilead's licence at 'concessional' price of $400 or Rs 30,000 – Rs 35,000 for the same five-day course.

"Given that India is one of the largest generic drug manufacturers in the world, there should be no reason why this drug cannot be made available rapidly and at affordable prices to the Indian people," it said.

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