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Tue Mar 24, 2020, 12:10 PM

It's insane, unacceptable - Gilead given 7 year monopoly on a potential coronavirus treatment




THIS AFTERNOON, the Food and Drug Administration granted Gilead Sciences “orphan” drug status for its antiviral drug, remdesivir. The designation allows the pharmaceutical company to profit exclusively for seven years from the product, which is one of dozens being tested as a possible treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Experts warn the designation, reserved for treating “rare diseases,” could block supplies of the antiviral medication from generic drug manufacturers and provide a lucrative windfall for Gilead Sciences, which maintains close ties with President Donald Trump’s task force for controlling the coronavirus crisis. Joe Grogan, who serves on the White House coronavirus task force, lobbied for Gilead from 2011 to 2017 on issues including the pricing of pharmaceuticals.

“The Orphan Drug Act is for a rare disease and this is about as an extreme opposite of a rare disease you can possibly dream up,” said James Love, the director of Knowledge Ecology International, a watchdog on pharmaceutical patent abuse.

“They’re talking about potentially half the population of the United States,” said Love, adding that “it’s absurd that this would happen in the middle of an epidemic when everything is in short supply.”

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