Coronavirus: The Global Race To Patent A Remedy


Publish Date:
February 14, 2020
Santa Cruz Sentinel
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As a lethal coronavirus triggers a humanitarian crisis in the world’s most populous nation, who owns the rights to a potential cure?

The Bay Area’s pharmaceutical powerhouse Gilead Sciences is first in line for a Chinese patent for its drug called Remdesivir, which shows promise against the broad family of coronaviruses.

And it is becoming more friendly to foreign companies and is strengthening its patent system to reward innovation, according to Stanford Law School professor Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, who studies the economic effect of both U.S. and international patent laws.

Even if China’s patent application is granted, it will not cause Gilead to lose rights in China, agreed Stanford’s Ouellette. Anyone who wants to use Remdesivir would still need to license it from Gilead.

This is a situation called “blocking patents,” said Stanford’s Ouellette. “Both patent owners have to come to the table and agree,” she said, “in order for either of them to use the later invention.”

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