Published: Sun, February 09, 2020
Medical | By Mark Scott

Antiviral drug Remdesivir to be applied in clinical trials Thursday

Antiviral drug Remdesivir to be applied in clinical trials Thursday

A Chinese TV report said researchers at Zhejiang University had found an effective drug for the virus, while Britain's Sky News said researchers had made a "significant breakthrough" in developing a vaccine.

The institute said it applied for a "use patent" that specifies the Wuhan virus as the drug's target.

The comments came after the Wuhan Institute of Virology said on Wednesday that it had filed a patent application to use remdesivir to treat the novel coronavirus on January 21, which has sparked debate on China's social media about intellectual property issues.

A state-run institution in China has applied for a patent on the use of an experimental Gilead Sciences drug, which scientists believe may be able to fight the coronavirus outbreak that has killed hundreds.

The outbreak does not appear to be slowing down and, with thousands of cases and multiple deaths reported every day - most in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak - health officials in China are rushing to find a cure.

As per the reports, China on Thursday began registering patients in a clinical trial of the newly-made antivirus Remdesivir, prepared by Gilead, the USA pharmaceutical giant. The two drugs' efficacies on humans required further clinical tests, the institute said in the statement.

Gilead, headquartered in Foster City, California, says it applied for a worldwide patient in 2016, including in China, for use of remdesivir against coronaviruses and is awaiting a decision.

Global Times
China Applies for Patent for Potential Coronavirus Drug

The update posted online yesterday has attracted wide notice among IP professionals given the fact that remdesivir was developed and patented by USA pharmaceutical company Gilead. "The government is compelled to avoid using the compulsory license because it has been making efforts to show China respects intellectual property rights and the abuse of compulsory licensing will draw global criticism".

WIV, which is affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, published a paper finding that a combination of remdesivir and off-patent malaria treatment chloroquine is "highly effective" in inhibiting the novel coronavirus.

The Wuhan institute said in a statement that it made the patent application out of "protecting national interest" and that it will not enforce patient rights if foreign companies work with China to contain the virus. Payment would consist of a license fee relative to fair market value.

"If relevant foreign companies intend to contribute to the prevention and control of China's epidemic, we both agree that if the state needs it, we will not require the implementation of the rights claimed in the patent for the time being, and we hope to work with foreign pharmaceutical companies to minimize the epidemic".

Last week, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that a coronavirus patient in the U.S. improved after being given an infusion of the experimental drug as a part of his treatment.

Doctors looking for ways to treat patients infected with the new coronavirus are likely to try antiviral medicines licensed for use against other viral infections to see if they might help, as well as potential antiviral drugs still in development.

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