Researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a top center studying viruses, have applied to patent a drug made by US company Gilead that could help with treating the coronavirus. The patent would leverage negotiations for access to the drug, along with pricing benefits.
Under World Trade Organization rules, China can declare an emergency and compel a company to license a patent to protect the public. Payment would consist of a license fee relative to fair market value. The Wuhan Institute of Virology, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said it applied for a “use patent” that specifies the Wuhan virus as the drug’s target. This week, state media Xinhua said clinical trials of the drug, remdesivir, were due to start.
Meanwhile, Ryan McKeel, a spokesman for Gilead commented, “Gilead has no influence over whether a patent office issues a patent to the Chinese researchers. Their application has been filed more than three years after Gilead’s filing and will be considered in view of what is already known about the compound and pending patent applications.”
As of now Gilead has not approved the drug for use anywhere in the world, but China was eager to begin trials after early signs showed it could be highly effective against the coronavirus. This week, state media Xinhua said clinical trials of the drug, remdesivir, were due to start.