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Samples of remdesivir are displayed at a press conference at the University Hospital Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany, on April 8, 2020.

POOL New/Reuters

Gilead Sciences Inc said on Tuesday it has signed nonexclusive licensing pacts with five generic drugmakers based in India and Pakistan to expand the supply of its experimental COVID-19 treatment remdesivir.

The pacts allow the companies – Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd , Cipla Ltd , Hetero Labs Ltd, Mylan NV and Ferozsons Laboratories Ltd – to make and sell the drug in 127 countries.

The countries consist of nearly all low-income and lower-middle income ones, as well as several that are upper-middle- and high-income, the drugmaker said. Afghanistan, India, North Korea, Pakistan and South Africa are among the countries.

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The licensees will also set their own prices for the generic product they produce, Gilead said.

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.

Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir earlier this month received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 patients.

With no other approved treatment for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, 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.

The pandemic has killed nearly 286,000 people globally, according to a Reuters tally, and several drugmakers are racing to develop a viable treatment or vaccine to combat the outbreak.

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