Under non-exclusive licensing agreement, Ferozsons will be allowed to set its own prices for generic version of drug
U.S.-based firm Gilead Sciences announced on Wednesday it had signed a non-exclusive, voluntary licensing agreement with five South Asian pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Ferozsons Laboratories of Pakistan, to increase the output of remdesivir, a drug being used to treat COVID-19 patients.
“The agreements allow the companies—Cipla Ltd., Ferozsons Laboratories, Hetero Labs Ltd., Jubilant Lifesciences and Mylan—to manufacture Remdesivir for distribution in 127 countries,” Gilead said in a statement.
“Under the licensing agreements, the companies have a right to receive a technology transfer of the Gilead manufacturing process for Remdesivir to enable them to scale up production more quickly. The licensees also set their own prices for the generic product they produce,” it added.
According to Gilead, the South Asian firms would cover many low-income and lower-middle income countries, as well as several upper-middle- and high-income countries that face significant obstacles to healthcare access.
“The licenses are royalty-free until the World Health Organization declares the end of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding COVID-19, or until a pharmaceutical product other than Remdesivir or a vaccine is approved to treat or prevent COVID-19, whichever is earlier,” read the Gilead statement.
In a related development, Ferozsons Laboratories informed the Pakistan Stock Exchange that subsidiary BF Biosciences Limited (BFBL) had signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences Inc. to manufacture and sell remdesivir. “Once production starts, we are confident that BFBL will have sufficient quantities over time to serve the needs of the patients in Pakistan and access countries abroad,” it said.
Remdesivir, administered through an injection, incorporates itself into a virus’ genome, short-circuiting its replication process. It was first developed to treat Ebola, a viral hemorrhagic fever, but did not boost survival rates as other medicines.
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the scientist who heads the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, remdesivir had been shown in a clinical trial of 1,000 people to help COVID-19 patients on the drug recover 31% faster than those on other medications.
However, sounding caution, he said that while the results were positive, they were too modest to consider it a “miracle cure.”