COVID-19: Civil society writes open letter, urging Gilead to ensure access to potential treatment

COVID-19: Civil society writes open letter, urging Gilead to ensure access to potential treatment

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 9:41 pm


COVID-19:  Civil society writes open letter, urging Golead  to ensure access to potential 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.

Remdesivir, produced by pharmaceutical corporation Gilead, is according to a report by, 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, as contained in the report, 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.

The report has it further: 

“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.”

Below is the letter:


Mr Daniel O’Day

Chief Executive Officer Gilead Science, Inc.

Dear Mr O’Day,

Open letter to Gilead concerning ensuring access to remdesivir

We write to request that Gilead take immediate actions to ensure rapid availability, affordability, and accessibility of its experimental therapy remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19, pending the results of the clinical trials demonstrating its efficacy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread across all continents and, to date, over 720,000 people have been infected, causing more than 30,000 deaths. Making effective therapeutics available and accessible rapidly for all people based on their medical needs is essential for all countries to combat the pandemic and may save many thousands of lives.

We are seriously concerned with Gilead’s current approach to remdesivir, which may obscure access to this potentially critical treatment for COVID-19. Gilead holds primary patents of remdesivir in more than 70 countries that may block generic entry until 2031. Despite public health emergency declarations in multiple states and cities in the United States (US) since the end of February, Gilead still sought an orphan drug designation from the US Food and Drug Administration on remdesivir with the aim to obtain further exclusive rights in the US, and only applied to rescind this exclusivity after public criticism in late March. Recently, faced with an overwhelming demand for individual compassionate use of remdesivir, Gilead announced its inability to ensure timely supply and reduced the scale of the programme.

The COVID-19 pandemic affects every person. It is unacceptable for Gilead’s remdesivir to be put under the company’s exclusive control taking into account that the drug was developed with considerable public funding for both early-stage research and clinical trials, the extraordinary efforts and personal risks that both healthcare workers and patients have faced in using the medicine in clinical trial settings, and the unprecedented disaster all countries are facing for their people, their healthcare systems, and their economies. Gilead has a poor track record for ensuring universal access to lifesaving treatments and the company’s recent actions with remdesivir provide scant assurance that the company can be trusted to act in the public interest.

We request Gilead to fully recognise the scale and potential consequences of pursuing exclusive rights as opposed to enabling the scale-up of production and affordable supply of remdesivir during this pandemic. We therefore urge Gilead to take immediate actions to:

– Declare that Gilead will not enforce and claim exclusive rights on patents and regulatory and trial data, or any other types of exclusivity anywhere in the world;

– make publicly available all data, sample products, and know-how that are needed for generic development and for regulatory processes, to facilitate the production and supply by generic manufacturers worldwide; and

– improve transparency by disclosing its manufacturing capacity and existing supply and allow independent and proper governance over the allocation of the treatment according to medical needs.

An exclusivity and monopoly-based approach will fail the world in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Gilead must act in the public interest now.


30 March 2020



1. Access to Medicines Ireland

2. Access to Medicines Research Group (China)

3. Action against AIDS Germany

4. ADIN (Africa Development Interchange Network)

5. AFT (American Federation of Teachers)

6. AHF India

7. AIDES France

8. AIDS Access Foundation (Thailand)

9. AIDS Action Europe

10. AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA)

11. AIDS Healthcare Foundation

12. All India Agricultural Workers Union

13. All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN)

14. Alliance of Filipino Workers (AFW)

15. Alliance of Women Human Right Defenders ( NAWHRD), Nepal

16. American Medical Student Association

17. ARAS – Romanian Association against AIDS

18. ARK Foundation , Nagaland, India

19. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development (APWLD

20. Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD)

21. Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS (ABIA)

22. Bangladesh Krishok Federation

23. Centre for Health Policy and Law, Northeastern University, School of Law, US

24. Centre for Peace Education and Community Development, Taraba State, Nigeria

25. Colombian Oversight and Cooperation Committee

(Comité de Veeduría y Cooperación en Salud – Colombia)

26. Comité des Volontaires Contre le Coronavirus Burkina Faso

27. Consumer Association of Penang

28. CurbingCorruption

29. DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era)

30. Deutsche Aidshilfe

31. Digo Bikas Institute, Nepal

32. DNDi (Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative)

33. Doctors for America

34. Drug Study Group (Thailand)

35. Drug System Monitoring and Development Centre (Thailand)

36. Ecologistas en Acción (Spain)

37. Ecumenical Academy (Czech Republic)

38. Educating Girls and Young Women for Development-EGYD

39. Faith in Healthcare

40. Families USA

41. Focus on the Global South


42. Food Sovereignty Alliance, India

43. Fórum de ONGs AIDS do Estado de São Paulo (FOAESP)

44. Forum for Trade Justice, India

45. Foundations for Consumers (Thailand)

46. FTA Watch (Thailand)

47. Fundación Grupo Efecto Positivo, Argentina


49. Global Coalition of TB Activists, New Delhi, India

50. Global Health Advocates France

51. Global Humanitarian Progress Corporation GHP Corp. Colombia

52. Global Justice Now

53. Global South

54. GNP+, Global Network of People living with HIV

55. Groupe sida Genève

56. Grupo de Apoio à Prevenção da AIDS – Rio Grande do Sul (GAPA – RS)

57. Grupo de Resistência Asa Branca (GRAB)

58. Grupo de Trabalho sobre Propriedade Intelectual (GTPI)

59. Grupo Incentivo à Vida (GIV)

60. Health Action International (HAI)

61. Health and Development Foundation (Thailand)

62. Health Equity Initiatives

63. Health GAP (Global Access Project)

64. Housing Works, USA

65. Human Rights Research Documentation Centre, Uganda

66. Human Touch Foundation Goa, India

67. IDRIS Association, Kuala Lumpur

68. I-MAK

69. Indonesia AIDS Coalition

70. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific)

71. IT for Change

72. ITPC (International Treatment Preparedness Coalition)

73. ITPC-LATCA (International Treatment Preparedness Coalition Latin American and Caribbean)

74. Kamayani Bali Mahabal , Convenor Jan Swasthya Abhitan Mumbai, India

75. KEI (Knowledge Ecology International)

76. Kolkata Rishta, India

77. Korean Federation Medical Activist Groups for Health Rights (Association of Korea Doctors for health rights, Association of Physicians for Humanism, Korean Dentist’s Association for Healthy Society, Korean Pharmacists for Democratic Society, Solidarity for worker’s health)

78. Kripa Foundation Nagaland, India

79. Labor Education and Research Network, Inc (LEARN), Philippines

80. Lawyers Collective, India

81. Lower Drug Prices Now, USA

82. Madhyam (India)

83. Malawi Health Equity Network

84. Malaysian AIDS Council


85. Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign 86. Medical Mission Sisters

87. Medical Mission Institute Würzburg

88. Medico International, Germany

89. MyWATCH (Malaysian Women’s Action on Tobacco Control and Health)

90. Nelson Mandela TB HIV Community Information and Resource Centre CBO, Kisumu Kenya 91. Nepal Development Initiative

92. NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, USA

93. NGO Forum on Asian Development Bank

94. NTFP EP Philippines (Non-Timber Forest Products Philippines)

95. Oxfam

96. Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG)

97. Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition-Zimbabwe

98. Pan-African Treatment Access Movement (PATAM)

99. People PLUS. Belarus

100. People’s Health Institute (South Korea) 101. People’s Action, USA

102. People’s Health Movement, Uganda

103. Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation

104. Pharmacists without Borders Germany

105. PHM Germany (People’s Health Movement, Germany)

106. Pink Triangle Foundation

107. Project on Organising Development Education and Research- PODER 108. Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+). 109. Prescrire

110. Public Citizen

111. Public Eye, Switzerland

112. Public Services International

113. Red Latinoamericana por el Acceso a Medicamentos, Argentina

114. Rede Nacional de Pessoas Vivendo com HIV – São Paulo (RNP + SP) 115. Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary NGO, USA

116. Rural Area Development Programme (RADP), Nepal

117. Sahayog Odisha, India

118. Salud por Derecho

119. Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust, India

120. Sentro Ng Mag Nagkakaisa, Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO)

121. Sisters of Charity Federation

122. Social Security Works

123. Society for International Development (SID)

124. Solidaritas Perempuan (Women’s Solidarity for Human Rights), Indonesia 125. STOPAIDS

126. Swasthya Adhikar Manch, India

127. T1International

128. Test Aankoop/Test Achats (Belgian consumer organisation)


129. Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (Thailand) 130. Third World Network (TWN), Malaysia

131. Transnational Institute (TNI), The Netherlands

132. Transparency International Health Initiative

133. TranspariMED

134. Treatment Action Group (TAG)

135. Treatment Preparedness Coalition in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ITPCru) 136. Trisuli Plus Communtiy action Group, Nepal

137. Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)

138. Universities Allied for Essential Medicines Europe

139. Viet Labor Movement, Vietnam

140. Voice of Patient, India

141. War on Want (UK)

142. Woman Health Philippines

143. Women, Law and Development, (MULEIDE), Mozambique

144. World Vision Deutschland e.V.

145. Yale Global Health Justice Partnership

146. Yolse Switzerland

147. Youth Engage, Zimbabwe


1. Achal Prabhala, Shuttleworth Fellow and coordinator of the AccessIBSA project

2. Arjun Kumar Bhattarai, Nepal Development Initiative

3. Dr. med. Christiane Fischer

4. Dr. Hafiz Aziz ur Rehman, International Islamic University, Islamabad Pakistan

5. Dr. Mohga Kamal-Yanni MPhil. MBE. Global Health and Access to Medicines Consultant

6. Dr Prabir Chatterjee MD, State Health Resource Centre, Chhattisgarh (India)

7. Jordan Jarvis, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK

8. Kamayani Bali Mahabal , Convenor Jan Swasthya Abhitan Mumbai, India

9. Katrina Perehudoff PhD, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada

10. Marcela Vieira, Researcher, Global Health Centre, Graduate Institute of Geneva

11. Prof. Brook K. Baker, Northeastern University, School of Law, US

12. Tracy Swan, ITPC Global


Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.