In view of the rising Covid-19 rates in poorer countries like India, Big Pharma is under pressure to forego the protection of vaccination patents
The waiver of patent protection for COVID-19 vaccines is strongly opposed by Big Pharma as it would set a precedent that could threaten future innovation and insist that the move would not speed up production.
Here are some of the consequences of waiving patent protection for novel coronavirus vaccines.
No immediate effects
Vaccine manufacturers say patents are not the key to speeding up production.
“Giving countries in need a recipe book without the necessary ingredients, safeguards and sizeable labor does not help the people waiting for the vaccine,” said Michelle McMurry-Heath, director of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), an industry lobby group.
Mastering the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology that forms the basis of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, purchasing equipment, conducting clinical trials, and setting up large-scale manufacturing – all of this takes time.
“This won’t happen in six, 12 or 18 months,” said Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, on Thursday.
Vaccine production is also hampered by customs barriers and the lack of certain ingredients.
Moderna pledged in October not to defend the COVID-19 vaccine patents it holds, while Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca pledged to sell the vaccine at cost.
US President Joe Biden has come under heavy pressure from world leaders who regretted the slow distribution of vaccines around the world, despite 57 percent of adults in the US receiving at least one dose
Surrendering the patents “does not mean that countries like India could accelerate the production of hundreds of millions of doses,” so that “they will not be significantly damaged in the coming months,” says Ian Gendler of research company Value Line.
The move may not even be a boon to corporate public relations, which are often criticized for high drug prices.
“They don’t do it voluntarily,” said Farasat Bokhari, a competitive health economist at the University of East Anglia, UK.
“If governments force them to do so, they are simply seen as dragged along”.
Ron Cohen, head of New York-based biotech company Acorda Therapeutics, warned that President Joe Biden is “taking the first step on a dangerous, slippery slope” by supporting the patent waiver.
“How will new vaccines come,” he asked on Twitter. Alzheimer’s is a global crisis, as is cancer. “What patents will be broken next if this precedent is set?” he asked.
Experts said the broader system of intellectual property protection is not fundamentally threatened.
The waiver of patents for COVID-19 vaccines “sets the path and precedent for removing them for other public emergencies in the future,” said Bokhari – because it “provides incentives … for companies to increase next time.” invest “would be eliminated.
Vaccine manufacturers say patents are not the key to speeding up production
the solution of the problem
For Damien Conover, an analyst in the pharma sector at Morningstar, the patent waiver means “more optics” for the Biden administration, which “shows support for the developing world rather than having a really big impact”.
Biden came under heavy pressure from world leaders who regretted the slow distribution of vaccines around the world, despite 57 percent of American adults receiving at least one dose.
“We still have to solve this problem,” said Bokhari. “We have to see where the bottlenecks are and why production is not increasing.”
The best way for the US government to eradicate vaccine inequality is to enter into licensing agreements between pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers in developing countries that include the transfer of know-how.
Shyam Balganesh, intellectual property specialist at Columbia University in New York, advocates pooling knowledge about COVID-19 as the virus is not going to go away anytime soon.
While companies are reluctant to forego patents, this is inconsistent with the efforts of governments to fund some research, facilitate regulatory processes and logistics, and given that the pandemic has created an exceptional situation, he said.
Balganesh warned that the final outcome of the negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) remains unclear.
“Whether it is the pharmaceutical industry, that is, all hell is breaking loose, or whether it is public health advocates celebrating this development, it is important to realize that we do not know what the text of the resolution will be like. “Said Balganesh.
How long the waiver of vaccination patents will exist or whether COVID-19 treatments are covered by the waiver is one of the “wrinkles that have to be ironed out”.
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Quote: Big Pharma Says Vaccine Patent Waiver Is Setting Dangerous Precedent (2021 May 7th) posted on May 7th, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-big-pharma-vaccine-patent -waiver.html was obtained
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