Letter |

Open letter: Civil society urges Gilead to take immediate action to ensure access to potential COVID-19 treatment

More than 150 civil society organisations and individuals and MSF sent an open letter to Gilead expressing concerns about how the pharmaceutical corporation’s current approach to remdesivir, a potentially key treatment for COVID-19, may hinder access for those who need it.

Open letter: Civil society urges Gilead to take immediate action to ensure access to potential COVID-19 treatment
Photograph by Lisa Veran

As the global pandemic of COVID-19 continues to spread, it is critical that effective treatments are made rapidly available and accessible to everyone in order to combat the pandemic and to save lives.

Remdesivir, produced by pharmaceutical corporation Gilead, is one of a number of COVID-19 treatment candidates that are being investigated in clinical trials in different countries. The corporation has a poor track record for ensuring universal access to lifesaving treatments, and the company’s recent actions with remdesivir provide scant assurance that Gilead can be trusted to act in the public interest. Gilead holds patents on the drug in more than 70 countries around the world. Currently, there are no production sites for the drug outside of the United States, and the company has recently reduced the scale of its compassionate use programme due to overwhelming demand. 

Deeply concerned with Gilead’s current approach to remdesivir, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and civil society organisations together wrote an open letter to Gilead urging the corporation to take immediate actions to ensure the availability, affordability, and accessibility of remdesivir. 

Gilead must take immediate action to commit to not enforcing or claiming patents and other exclusivities on remdesivir anywhere in the world, and to enable the production and supply of remdesivir by generic manufacturers worldwide to ensure its availability, accessibility, and affordability, should the drug’s efficacy be demonstrated by the ongoing clinical trials.