Only India, Pakistan among developing countries with sufficient stock of remdesivir& |  Photo Credit: PTI
- Gilead Sciences signed royalty-free licencing agreement with India, Pakistan, Egypt to supply remdesivir to 127 developing countries
- Nine companies in India and Pakistan signed agreement with Gilead Sciences for production of coronavirus drug remedisivir
New Delhi: Amid a resurgence in cases of coronavirus worldwide many countries such as the UK and Ireland mulling a second lockdown, there is a concern about the shortage of drugs that are used against Covid-19 patients. In such a scenario, drug companies are under immense pressure to meet worldwide demand for drugs used in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
Both India and Pakistan have increased production of remdesivir under a licencing agreement with Gilead Sciences and have sufficient stockpiles to deal with the local demand. However, distribution to other developed countries has been slow, according to a report in UK-based business daily Financial Times.
Drug companies in India and Pakistan, which are part of the licencing agreement with the Foster City, California-based biopharmaceutical company, for production and distribution of the experimental Covid-19 drug, said while there is no problem in meeting local demand.
In May, Gilead signed a licencing agreement with nine companies in India, Pakistan and Egypt to supply the drug to 127 developing countries. For the duration of the pandemic, as declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), or until an alternative vaccine for Covid-19 is found, the licences for these companies will be royalty-free bringing down the cost of the drug in India to Rs 2200-Rs 2,800 as compared to $380 or Rs 28,600 (approx.) in the US.
India-based generic pharmaceutical company Hetero said that very few of the 127 countries under the Gilead licencing agreement have set up a mechanism for procurement of remdesivir. Hetero, which had delivered around 800,000 doses of the drug since it started production in June, has only exported to 25 countries while Cipla, another Indian drug manufacturer to only South Africa.
Originally developed to treat Ebola, Remdesivir got authorisation for use on Covid patients in the United States in May. The drug is known to shorten the recovery time of Covid patients and also reduce the risk of death.
Gilead said more than 40 countries have received the drug so far as part of the royalty-free licencing agreement.
Ferozsons Laboratories Limited, one of the largest drug manufacturers in Pakistan, said his company is sitting on a huge stockpile of the drug after cases suddenly declined in Pakistan. It is now exporting to Caribbean countries, Kenya and the Philippines, the report added.