The government-run Wuhan Institute of Virology recently stated that it applied to patent a drug in January for treating the novel Wuhan coronavirus disease.
The antiviral drug, known as remdesivir, was originally developed by a California company Gilead Science Inc. Gilead originally applied to patent remdesivir three years ago in China for treating coronaviruses broadly, including the 2019-nCoV, which is blamed for the recent Wuhan outbreak. The Wuhan Institute of Virology will need to prove that the drug works uniquely in treating the 2019-nCoV strain in order to obtain patent protection. This action from the Chinese government agency raises concerns that the Chinese government may abuse its regulatory system and give preferential treatment to domestic industry. On the other hand having a patent could give China more leverage in negotiating licensing fees for the drug with Gilead, where China is best placed to conduct valuable research and is in the greatest need for a cure. More details are available here.