The raising of vaccine patents is an arena of contention between governments and laboratories


The idea of ​​raising patents for anti-vaccines For Covid-19 It is generally rejected by pharmaceutical companies. Even if their profits are not currently threatened, these companies fear that such a proposal could set a precedent that stifles innovation.

Pharmaceutical companies assert that patent protection is not the factor preventing vaccine production.

“Giving countries in need prescriptions without ingredients, safeguards and specialized labor will not help people waiting for a vaccine,” said Michael McCurry-Heath, lobby manager for organic biotechnology companies.

And Thursday, Stephen Bancil, chairman of the board, announced Moderna Mastering the messenger RNA technology that underpins vaccines Pfizer-Biontec And our manager, buying machines, running clinical trials and starting large-scale manufacturing, “doesn’t happen in 6, 12, or 18 months.”

His company pledged in October not to sue other companies that might use their patents to produce vaccines against COVID-19 as well.

Production is also hampered by customs obstacles or a shortage of some components.

The intellectual property system

For companies that are currently benefiting from the vaccine – you pledged Johnson & Johnson And AstraZeneca is selling it at cost – the patent filing won’t affect it “especially in the coming months,” says Ian Gendler of Value Line research.

Could the suggestion have a positive effect on the reputation of laboratories that are often criticized for high drug prices? Uncertain, according to Faras Buhari, an economist who specializes in competition and health issues at the University of East Anglia in Britain. “At this stage, this will be under government pressure, and these companies will appear uncooperative.”

Ron Cohen, head of the biotechnology company Accorda Terbiotics in New York, believes that by supporting the temporary lifting of patents, Of the bygones A dangerous and slippery slope. ”He wrote on Twitter,“ What are the following patents on the list that will not be protected after this precedent is recorded? ”He stressed that cancer or Alzheimer’s diseases can also be considered“ global crises ”.

Experts assure France Press that the intellectual property system, as it is currently, is basically not threatened.

‘A theoretical question’

But raising the patent for the Covid-19 vaccine “sets a precedent for the next health crises,” Bukhari says. Pharmaceutical companies, whether backed by public funds or not, “will have no incentive to invest the next time there is an emergency.”

Damian Konover, a specialist in the pharmaceutical industry at Morningstar, considers support for the patenting of COVID-19 vaccines to be undoubtedly a “theoretical issue” for the Biden administration.

Facing United State Which usually advocates for the preservation of intellectual property rights, pressure from developing countries condemning the slow distribution of vaccines around the world, while 45% of Americans received at least one dose.

Bukhari notes that this injustice “has not yet been resolved.” “For example, we have to determine where the obstacles are in production,” he says.

Consolidation of information related to “Covid-19”

In his view, the US government could above all help conclude licensing agreements between drug groups and manufacturers in developing countries that include transfer of expertise.

Intellectual property specialist at Columbia University in New York, Shyam Balghanish, calls for the consolidation of all information related to the Covid-19 epidemic, which will not disappear anytime soon.

According to him, the companies ’hesitation is not matched by the aid that governments have provided, funded part of the research, facilitated organizational or logistical processes, and the fact that the situation is exceptional.

“Whether it comes to pharmaceutical companies who say that the opening of this door is unknown, or to public health advocates who welcome this development, it is important to acknowledge that we do not know which text will be adopted,” he added.

Is there any intention to lift patents on vaccines for years, or even reach herd immunity? Is there an intention to include treatments as well? “There are still a lot of points to negotiate.”


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