Vaccine Patent Waiver Faces Rocky Road Despite US Support
And if the World Trade Organization measure is approved, it is unlikely that doses manufactured as a result would get where they are desperately needed for months or longer. But the move may get pharmaceutical companies to the bargaining table.
The Washington Post:
‘It’s Pretty Marginal': Experts Say Biden’s Vaccine Waiver Unlikely To Boost Supply Quickly
The Biden administration’s support of a petition to ease patent protections for vaccines elevated the global battle against the coronavirus as a central plank of U.S. foreign policy, but myriad hurdles remain before that stance could become international policy — if ever. As a result, it could be months, or longer, before the World Trade Organization reaches an agreement to temporarily waive the protections and years before countries build factories and amass the materials and expertise to produce the vaccines, experts say. (Pager, Diamond and Stein, 5/6)
U.S. Reversal On Vaccine Patents Offers Countries In Crisis Hope, But Hurdles Persist
The Biden administration's decision to support waiving intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines was hailed by activists and health officials Thursday as a decisive move that could upend the cozy relationship between rich countries and pharmaceutical giants and mark a crucial step toward addressing global vaccine inequality. The move drew strong criticism, however, from leading drugmakers and some experts, who are skeptical about its impact on the world's efforts to fight the coronavirus. And the dramatic shift from Washington also raised questions about what comes next, with focus turning to whether others will follow the United States' lead. (Smith, 5/6)
U.S. Move To Loosen Vaccine Patents Will Draw Drug Companies To Bargain - Lawyers
U.S. support for waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines could be a tactic to convince drugmakers to back less drastic steps like sharing technology and expanding joint ventures to quickly boost global production, lawyers said on Thursday. "I think the end result that most players are looking for here is not IP waiver in particular, it’s expanded global access to the vaccines," said Professor Lisa Ouellette of Stanford Law School. (Erman and Brittain, 5/7)
U.S. Opened Pandora’s Box On IP Waivers For Covid Vaccines. What Now?
In a surprising move, the Biden administration has said it will support a controversial proposal to temporarily waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines in a bid to increase global supplies of desperately needed doses. The proposal, which was introduced before the World Trade Organization last fall by South Africa and India, would cover patents, industrial designs, copyrights, and protection of trade secrets. Ultimately, a waiver would make it easier for countries that permit compulsory licensing to allow a manufacturer to export vaccines. (Silverman, 5/6)
Other nations and groups respond to the news —
The Boston Globe:
Moderna’s CEO Says He ‘Didn’t Lose A Minute Of Sleep’ Over Potential Waiver Of Vaccine Patents
Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel on Thursday shrugged off the Biden administration’s support for suspending patents for coronavirus vaccines, saying drug firms in other countries would struggle to mass-produce a rival to the blockbuster vaccine that has made his company a household name. Speaking during a first-quarter earnings call, the head of the Cambridge biotech said he “didn’t lose a minute of sleep” after the administration said it would endorse the temporary waiver of patents to bolster vaccine production in developing nations as a way to hasten an end to the pandemic. (Saltzman, 5/6)
Mixed Response In Europe To Biden's Vaccine Patents Bombshell
The Biden administration surprised the world last night by coming out in favor of waiving patents for coronavirus vaccines — but Europe is divided on the issue. European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said Brussels would be willing to discuss it; French President Emmanuel Macron said he backed the U.S. position, but a German government spokesman said the proposal would cause "severe complications" for vaccine production. (Lawler, 5/6)
Germany Opposes Biden's Support For Waiving Vaccine Patents
The Biden administration's support for a proposal to waive certain patent protections for coronavirus vaccines would create “severe complications” for vaccine production, a German government spokesperson said Thursday, according to Bloomberg. The patent waiver proposal, which proponents say will help increase vaccine production and deliver doses to the developing world, is working its way through the World Trade Organization and all 164 member countries will have to consent to the decision, according to Reuters. (Knutson, 5/6)
In related news —
This Small Canadian Drugmaker Wants To Make J&J Vaccines For Poor Nations. It Needs More Than A Patent Waiver.
Biolyse Pharma Corp., which makes injectable cancer drugs, was gearing up to start making generic biologic drugs, made from living organisms. Then the pandemic hit. Watching the covid death toll climb, the company decided its new production lines and equipment could be converted to making vaccines for poorer countries without the means to do so. (Tribble and Allen, 5/6)
KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Sharing Vaccines With The World
The Biden administration — keeping a campaign promise — announced it would back a temporary waiver of patent protections for the covid-19 vaccines, arousing the ire of the drug industry. The administration is also picking a fight with tobacco companies, as the Food and Drug Administration prepares to ban menthol flavorings in cigarettes and small cigars. Tobacco makers have long promoted menthol products to the African American community, and the action is controversial. (5/6)