Drug Conglomerates Ditches Patents to Better Fight COVID-19

The pharmaceutical world is on a race to find a cure as the COVID-19 pandemic is still claiming lives. What the world needs is a vaccine that would make people develop antibodies and become immune to the virus. We also need plenty of test kits for early detection and drugs for treating people who already have the virus.

If it’s just a normal day, drug companies would usually not help each other with these types of undertakings. This is because developing new medicine costs a lot of the company’s resources, this is the reason why they try to protect their prized inventions with a patent. But times like today are not ordinary, the whole world is on a mission to solve a common problem, to stop the spread of the virus, and this calls for these drug companies to temporarily give up protecting their hard work with a patent so that no one steals it and focus all their efforts into collaborating with other companies in the pursuit of immediately finding a cure to the virus.

And there are companies that have taken initiative already, a United States-based drug firm AbbVie, they have announced last month that it would lift their patent on a drug called Kaletra, it’s a medicine that cures human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to let other companies also test its antiviral features against the COVID-19 virus.

For drug firms on the other hand that choose not to give up their patents for exclusivity rights over it, there are sanctions written in the law waiting for them because they are hindering public interest. An example is the compulsory licensing of patents. This gives the other companies that don’t have the rights to the intellectual property of the drug in question the permission for them to legally manufacture and distribute copies of the drug in times of emergencies. This is possible because they are stated in the major international trade treaties, that governments are allowed to give the necessary licenses for a use of a specific drug inside that country’s borders under a strict set of rules.

Is the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, it is very much likely that we would be seeing an increase in granting access to drug licenses if it’s going to be used in research for a cure to COVID-19, even more so when companies are not willing to open their research for collaborative efforts. In the middle east, Israel has issued access to Kaletra, a drug by the US firm AbbVie, this is what caused AbbVie to furlough their rights over their own medicine for it to be used worldwide.

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