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Amid worldwide clamoring for Covid-19 vaccines and other therapies, Gilead Sciences (GILD) last month filed a lawsuit against the Russian government for allowing a domestic company to manufacture and market its remdesivir treatment, which is also known as Veklury.

The move came after the government late last year issued a compulsory license to a company called Pharmasyntez, which unsuccessfully approached Gilead about obtaining a license to produce a version of the medicine. At the time, the health minister pursued the step “in the interest of national security,” and the company indicated plans to sell its version about half the cost.


A country may grant such a license to a public agency or a generic drug maker, allowing it to copy a patented medicine without the consent of the brand-name company that owns the patent. This right was memorialized in a section of a World Trade Organization agreement known as the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS (here is a primer).

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