Chinese scientists ask for patent on U.S. drug to fight virus

Chinese scientists ask for patent on U.S. drug to fight virus

Chinese scientists ask for patent on U.S. drug to fight virus

Gilead is working with Chinese health authorities to establish a randomized, controlled clinical trial.

Even so, the use of the experimental drug has been allowed only as an emergency treatment, which can be administered in the absence of any other approved treatment options.

The registration for clinical trials on the antiviral drug Remdesivir has been approved, and the first batch of pneumonia patients infected by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) are expected to start taking the drug on Thursday, according to an official conference on Wednesday. If this patent is granted, Gilead will need to get Chinese patent owners on board when it wants to sell the drug for treating the novel coronavirus infection outside China. The move is a sign that China views Gilead's therapy as one of the most promising candidates to fight the outbreak that has now claimed nearly 500 lives.

According to the institute, the patent application was submitted jointly with the Military Medicine Institute of the People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Science.

On Thursday, China began enrolling patients in a clinical trial of remdesivir, an antiviral medicine made by Gilead, the USA pharmaceutical giant. But it also might fuel complaints Beijing abuses its regulatory system to pressure foreign companies to hand over valuable technology.

It will be tested by a medical team from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing to see if it will treat coronavirus, Bloomberg news reported, citing a spokeswoman from the hospital.

As the patent has not yet been published, it's unclear whether it specifically covers the use of remdesivir for treating this novel coronavirus outbreak or whether it's drafted more broadly.

For their part, the Chinese authorities have acknowledged that there may be "intellectual property barriers", but they said the patent application had been made in order to "protect national interests". "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".

Although the drug has not gone through all the procedures of clinical trials on the coronavirus overseas, it has shown fairly good vitro activity in related domestic research, Sun Yanrong, an official of the ministry, told a media briefing. It would be required to pay a license fee that is deemed fair market value. A number of pharmaceutical company stocks have traded higher after announcing work on different treatments or vaccines for the disease as China works to curb the outbreak. The company also highlighted limited clinical data that is available from the emergency use of the drug candidate in treating patients with Ebola virus infection.

Gilead is donating about 500 patients' worth of the experimental drug, and Chinese hospitals will be in charge of conducting the tests.

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