Israel OKs Use of Generic Abbott Drug to Treat Coronavirus Despite Patent

By Reuters Staff

March 20, 2020

TEL AVIV (Reuters) — Israel's attorney general on Thursday approved for the first time the use of a generic version of a patent-protected drug to treat coronavirus patients.

The anti-viral drug Kaltera, produced by Abbott Laboratories, is a treatment for HIV but Israel's Health Ministry found it could be a possible treatment for COVID-19 and a preliminary permit for the drug was issued.

There are 529 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel.

Abbott's patent for Kaltera in Israel ends in 2024 but the patent in some other countries, such as India, has expired.

"The company with the patent and the official importer in Israel are not able to supply the necessary inventory for this drug, which is very much in demand all over the world these days," the Justice Ministry said.

"Therefore ... the state will be able to import generic substitutes from countries where the patent has expired."

It said generic Kaltera will only be used to treat coronavirus and not HIV.