Shares of Jubilant Life Sciences and Cipla surged up to 6 per cent on the BSE on Wedneday after the two pharmaceutical firms signed non-exclusive licensing pacts with US-based Gilead Sciences Inc to manufacture and sell Remdesivir, the latter's experimental Covid-19 treatment drug, in 127 countries.
At 9:45 am, Jubilant Life Sciences was locked in the 5 per cent upper circuit band at Rs 429.95 on the BSE, while Cipla was trading 1.42 per cent higher at Rs 578 apiece, after touching an intra-day high of Rs 603.5 (up 5.8 per cent). In comparison, the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex was at 31,994.39 level, up 623.27 points or 1.99 per cent.
According to the statements issued by Jubilant Life and Cipla, both the firms will have the right to register, manufacture and sell Gilead’s investigational drug Remdesivir in 127 countries including India. These countries consist of nearly all low-income and lower middle-income countries, as well as several uppermiddle and high-income countries that face significant obstacles to healthcare access.
Remdesivir is an investigational antiviral therapy developed by Gilead, and has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by US FDA to treat Covid-19. The EUA will facilitate broader use of Remdesivir to treat hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19 disease.
"We will be monitoring the clinical trials and regulatory approvals very closely and would be ready to launch the drug shortly after the required regulatory approvals. We also plan to produce the drug’s Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (“API”) in-house helping its cost effectiveness and consistent availability,” said Shyam S. Bhartia, Chairman and Hari S. Bhartia, Co-Chairman & Managing Director at Jubilant Life Sciences in a joint statement.
The licensees, Gilead Sciences said, will also set their own prices for the generic product they produce.
"The licenses are royalty-free until the World Health Organization declares the end of the public health emergency regarding Covid-19, or until a product other than remdesivir or a vaccine is approved to treat or prevent Covid-19," the company said in a statement.
With no other approved treatment for Covid-19, interest in Remdesivir has been growing, and the company is being closely watched on the pricing and distribution of the limited supply of the drug. Gilead, last week, said it was negotiating long-term licenses with several generic drugmakers in India and Pakistan to produce Remdesivir for developing countries and that it would provide technology to aid the production.
India's total number of coronavirus cases has reached 74,292 and 2,415 people have died from the virus so far, according to Worldometer data. Globally, 4,342,345 have been infected as of today, and the total number of deaths from the disease now stands at 292,893.