Fundación GEP has filed this week a patent opposition against Gilead patent application on remdesivir before Argentinean Patent Office. GEP has requested that the National Institute of Intellectual Property (INPI) reject the patent application so as to prevent monopoly barriers that the company is seeking to generate on this drug that could be a breakthrough in the treatment of the pandemic disease.
Buenos Aires, June 4th, 2020. Fundación GEP has filed a patent opposition against a patent application on remdesivir submitted by Gilead, the US multinational pharmaceutical company. Remdesivir, one of the medical drugs now in clinical trial for its use in the treatment of COVID-19, is presented as the most promising treatment so far.
In Argentina, Gilead has submitted at least six patent applications, in an attempt to withhold technology by doing so. In the applications submitted to INPI, the company tries to claim therapy methods that are not patentable in Argentina, and by doing so, it tries to gain exclusive rights to produce and commercialize remdesivir at unreasonable prices.
“Patent oppositions are legal instruments that allow a close collaboration in the analysis of patent applications submitted before INPI, this office is in charge of rejecting or granting patent rights by verifying the legality of applications. Prior to the granting of the patent, the Argentinean State has to analyze applications as well as the oppositions or calls to attention filed by third parties, such as the ones submitted by Fundación GEP”, said Lorena Di Giano, Executive Director of Fundación GEP.
By patenting their products, companies are free to charge them at extremely high prices. Such is the case of sofosbuvir –a drug that cures Hepatitis C- for which Gilead set a price of 84,000 US dollars for one person’s treatment in countries where the treatment is patented. According to the University of Liverpool, this drug could be produced with 100 dollars.
“It is clear that Gilead is trying to install the same abusive commercial strategy for remdesivir, so we aim at preventing such behavior in Argentina, in this pandemic framework of COVID-19”, Di Giano added.
The Price that remdesivir will have is not yet known and it pretty much depends on the monopolies Gilead could obtain in different countries. The University of Liverpool has recently conducted a study that proved that remdesivir, as well as other drugs under trial for the treatment of COVID-19, could be produced at the cost of a dollar or less for a day’s treatment. This is key data when it comes to putting Gilead’s speculative prices under analysis.
Gilead has already shown its global commercial strategy regarding this drug. The company is willing to transfer technology only to certain producers in India and Pakistan, and has held the market in middle-income countries –including all the countries in South America- to profit from intellectual property rights granted by its patents.
Gilead is one of the biggest multinational pharmaceutical companies and it is owned by a society of a number of investment funds. BlackRock, one of Argentina’s biggest creditors in the external debt, is one of them. With its headquarters in the United States, the company has the monopoly of the production and marketing of remdesivir in 70 countries around the world, even when this drug has not yet been granted the approval to be commercialized.
“Pharmaceutical companies are no longer laboratories where scientists are seeking a health solution: behind them there are big investment funds that speculate with our health. They are not interested in saving lives, but in developing their products only for those people and States that can buy them at the impossible prices they have under the imposed monopolies. We have recently witnessed how this pharmaceutical corporation blocks the access to medicine that saves lives”, said José María Di Bello, President of Fundación GEP.
INPI must urgently act and resolve as a priority all the patent requests on remdesivir or any other drug or vaccine that shows to be effective against the pandemic.
In Argentina there are legal instruments to guarantee Access to essential drugs or vaccines for COVID-19, it is just a question of having the right political will.