Russian Firm Seeks to Produce COVID-19 Drug Without Patent

MOSCOW (Reuters) -
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Russian drugmaker Pharmasyntez has asked the Kremlin for permission to produce a generic version of U.S. firm Gilead Sciences’s COVID-19 treatment remdesivir without а patent, the Vedomosti newspaper reported on Monday.

Siberia-based Pharmasyntez previously approached Gilead requesting a voluntary license to produce and distribute the drug in Russia, the company’s director, Vikram Punia, had told Reuters this year.

But it was not able to produce the drug as it is protected by a patent and Gilead did not respond to a request for a voluntary license, Vedomosti reported, citing a letter sent by Punia to several Russian ministries.

Pharmasyntez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Russian firm has completed a clinical trial of the generic drug, labeled Remdeform, on 300 patients across 23 Russian hospitals, a register entry showed.

Gilead granted such permission to manufacture its drug to producers in 127 countries. These were predominantly low-income countries or those with other significant obstacles to health-care access, Gilead has said.

In his letter, Punia asked Russia’s government to activate a compulsory licensing process, Vedomosti reported, in which the government grants licenses to produce patented products in Russia without the permission of the patent holder, in the interests of national security and defense.