Friday, 20 March 2020

Will the US Government, California and Health Insurers Produce Treatments for Covid-19 for the World?


Neil Wilkof wrote on the IPKat blog today that the Israeli government has essentially issued permits under Israeli law to import generic versions of a drug into Israel for the purpose of treating Covid-19 infected patients despite patents covering that drug in Israel.  Neil notes that there is a dwindling supply of the drug and that the Israeli government is acting quickly to acquire supply.  

Notably, one issue that exists is the production of useful treatments for coronavirus.  Prior to the pandemic, there was already a concern with the lack of production of many generic drugs.  The State of California as well as health insurers are looking into manufacturing generics.  Moreover, the U.S. Congress has legislation before it concerning the federal government’s ability to have generics manufactured on its behalf or to manufacture those generics itself. (Here's a nice list of the US FDA's actions concerning the virus.) Additionally, on Tuesday of this week, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act.  This Act apparently allows the federal government to direct, to an extent, private industry concerning the production and pricing of items necessary for national defense, in part.  It will be interesting to see if President Trump uses this power to push the manufacture of treatments for coronavirus for the United States, and hopefully, the world, and if California and Congress move fast to produce and incentivize more potential treatments. (If they did, this could lead to the development of much stronger US based generic manufacturing.)

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