The originator biopharmaceutical industry, in Dublin and Brussels, is pressing for the protection intellectual property as efforts intensify to waive inventors’ rights to own patents for Covid vaccines and treatments.
IPHA, in partnership with EFPIA in Europe and with BPCI in Dublin, has urged the Government to partner with the industry in stepping up efforts to achieve equity of access to vaccines and treatments around the world and to surge production.
The call comes following a proposal for consideration by the UN’s TRIPS Council of a a temporary waiver for health products and technologies, including diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, medical devices and personal protective equipment to tackle Covid.
The proposal is by India and South Africa, co-sponsored by some developing countries. The US administration has supported the proposal. EU leaders have asked for an open discussion. Germany, Portugal, Estonia and Belgium oppose the Covid vaccines waiver proposal. Greece, France and Italy, with significant qualifications, support it.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in her plenary session speech last month, opposed the waiver, saying “intellectual property has to be protected because it is the idea behind the breakthrough, and it retains the incentives for innovation in research and development”.
The industry has urged:
o Continued dose-sharing: Through COVAX, accelerate the redistribution of significant domestic supplies of Covid vaccine doses with low and lower middle-income countries.
o Optimised production: Onboard, on a voluntary basis, suitable manufacturing partners and invest in existing sites, meeting the highest regulatory standards.
o Removing trade barriers: Expedite the cross-border supply of raw materials, vaccines and skills needed for surged vaccines production.
o Backing country preparedness: Ensure countries, especially low and lower middle-income countries, are able to distribute Covid vaccine doses within their shelf-lives.
o Valuing innovation: support innovators’ efforts to find answers to Covid variants.
The industry recently met the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar TD, to discuss the implications of waiving IP rights for Covid vaccines and treatments. Government enterprise policy has been key to attracting major biopharmaceutical investments. The Government is keenly aware of the importance of a robust innovation policy, especially for medicines whose invention depends on a stable intellectual property framework