In an unprecedented move Ferozsons Laboratories announced on Wednesday that it’s fully owned subsidiary BF Biosciences Ltd (BFBL) has signed a non-exclusive license agreement with Gilead Sciences Inc for manufacturing and selling Remdesivir — an experimental antiviral drug that is being used to treat coronavirus patients.
In a recent notice to Pakistan Stock Exchange, the company notified that Gilead sciences has signed non-exclusive voluntary license agreements with five South Asian pharmaceutical manufacturers which also includes BFBL to manufacture and export Remdesivir to emerging economies in 127 countries.
Under the license agreement Gilead sciences will also transfer proprietary technology to enable scales up production.
The company stated that it was extremely confident in its subsidiary to be able to produce quantities that are required to cater to the Pakistani COVID-19 19 patients and moreover will have the quantities that will allow for export.
“The BFBL management is actively taking up the matter with the relevant stakeholders for the necessary regulatory approvals and API [active pharmaceutical ingredient] arrangements so that Remdesivir is made available to patients on an urgent basis,” the notice mentioned.
The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan has been directed to do a fast-track registration of the anti-viral medicine. It will be administered to patients in the form of an injection. The Ferozsons’s CEO assured that the drug will be sold at a minimal price once manufactured. Pakistan will begin manufacturing Remdesivir, in the next six to eight weeks.
Remdesivir is an experimental anti viral drug originally developed for the Ebola virus but didn’t have the effectiveness against it. Recent studies held under the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have shown that the drug is effective against the Coronavirus and reduces recovery time by as much as 30% vs the patients administered the placebo and is the most effective if given early in the life cycle of the disease. This was the first proof of an effective drugs against COVID-19 and fast tracked the approval of the drug by FDA. It is now approved as a valid drug to be used in the treatment of COVID-19
On May 6, Gilead had already announced this move citing that its in talks with several drug producers in India and Pakistan to negotiate the production of Remdesivir including the announcement that a significant technology transfer will be a part of the agreement.
However, Remdesivir performed poorly in small trials held in the whuan province run by the WHO during the early stages of the pandemic. Most scientists blame the small sample sizes of those trials to have caused the result. Peer reviews on both studies are still pending.