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American taxpayers may have provided $162 million toward researching remdesivir, but the federal government does not have patent rights for the drug because the work contributed by U.S. scientists did not generate any inventive new uses, according to a government report.

Moreover, Gilead Sciences, which discovered remdesivir, had already reached collaborative research deals with various federal agencies and universities to work on its existing portfolio of patents and patent applications, including for the remdesivir compound. And this “would have left little room for the agencies to generate their own patents, the Government Accountability Office found.


The report, which was requested by Congress, is designed to settle a contentious debate over the extent to which the federal government should benefit from its years-long contribution into researching uses for the Covid-19 treatment. Now known as Veklury, the medicine was the first Covid-19 treatment authorized by regulators for emergency use and generated $2.8 billion in sales last year.

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