There have been many patented anti-viral drugs which are stored in huge libraries waiting to be tested. The issues are always that some compounds do not appear to have the qualities to roll out without extensive testing. Vaccines and ‘repurposing’ existing antiviral drugs already claim to be a cure for certain infections, viruses and diseases. The pharmaceutical companies have protected these biotechnological compounds with intellectual property rights to ensure they are not infringed. All until such time, or if and when they are given a go ahead to be given human testing before global distribution can be agreed.
The current pandemic known as Covid 19 or Coronavirus is the next virus that is causing all researchers to race to find the cure in their patented catalogue of drugs. The issue is not necessarily whether the cure is available but in fact if the roll out is not possible for months yet.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology has a tested compound which they have applied for a national patent and have called it remdesivir which they claim treats Covid 19. This type of patent application is becoming more popular and is known as ‘second medial use’ patents if they are granted. Usually, providing it conforms to biotechnological requirements and does not infringe on a third party rights, it should afford protection as a patent.
Speed can be tricky but Inovio, who are a pharmaceutical company based in Philadelphia were praised for speed of production for the Zika virus in 2016 because they were able to achieve a 7 month turn around from manufacture to it being administered to patients. They aim to provide a record breaking option for the Coronavirus now, but will it be too late.
Patents can be very fruitful with saving lives. Inovio were able to use its electroporation delivery technology to design a DNA based vaccine within three hours after obtaining the conronavirus genetic sequence detail. Genetic technology and pharmaceutical companies’ library of drugs all have obtained IP protection even down to registering its brand name as a trade mark and the technological application being patented. It is then the aim to license these out globally for distribution. Again, this would not be possible without obtaining prior rights. Lets just hope that all these hurdles can be broken before we result in a global pandemic like we have never seen before.
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