Gilead criticised over ‘orphan status’ for potential virus treatment - (Financial Times via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Gilead Sciences is being criticised by some health activists for securing orphan drug status in the US for its experimental drug remdesivir, seen as a potential treatment for COVID-19, reported the Financial Times.

  • "At the time of the request for orphan drug designation, only a small number of Americans were affected by COVID-19," Gilead noted, adding that it had been "making significant at-risk investments to develop and manufacture" the drug as the pandemic spreads.

  • Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that AbbVie would be dropping its patent protection on Kaletra, another potential coronavirus treatment candidate.

  • Observers suggested AbbVie may have been motivated by anticipated demand surges should the treatment prove effective, or because higher-income countries would likely follow in the steps of Israel by issuing compulsory licences for the drug to treat coronavirus.

  • Meanwhile, Gilead said it was acutely aware of the need surrounding the pandemic, and was working to "responsibly provide emergency access to remdesivir while these studies are ongoing."

  • It added that if the drug turns out to be safe and effective against COVID-19, "we are committed to making remdesivir both accessible and affordable to governments and patients around the world."

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