By Peter Maybarduk and Christopher J. Morten
“Ms. Pipes calls compulsory patent licensing ‘theft’ and ‘expropriation’ and suggests, outrageously, that the attorneys general are subverting ‘the rule of law.’ In fact, compulsory licensing of patents and other intellectual property is enshrined in U.S. federal law. Various federal agencies, including the Defense Department, regularly use compulsory licensing to procure necessary supplies.
Ms. Pipes states, ‘it’s ludicrous to declare that Gilead is unable to assure a supply of remdesivir sufficient to alleviate the health and safety needs of the country.’ Yet 38 hospitals in 32 cities in 12 states have reported shortages and rationing, and Gilead just announced to investors that ‘there is no assurance that we will be able to meet global supply needs for remdesivir.’
Ms. Pipes claims that ‘[t]he federal government’s own experts don’t believe they have a legitimate claim to remdesivir,’ citing a statement from a representative of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. In fact, a report that one of us published in May showed that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the strongest government claim to co-ownership of patents covering remdesivir, and the CDC has so far declined to comment on its patent rights. Interviews in the Washington Post with the CDC and ex-Gilead scientists confirm that research on remdesivir’s antiviral properties was not only federally funded but performed by a CDC scientist.
The AGs should be praised, not criticized, for proposing bold action to end shortages and rationing of remdesivir. HHS can and must use every legal authority it has to ensure that all of us get access to the drug that our tax dollars funded.”