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Public Policy Newsletter Article

Biocom California Strongly Opposes TRIPS Waiver

  • 2021-05-20T15:00:00.000+0000
  • Author: Laure Fabrega

On May 6, 2021, Biocom California issued a statement expressing strong opposition to the White House’s decision to support waiving intellectual property (IP) rights for companies producing COVID-19 vaccines under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

This new policy position was issued in response to a proposal from WTO countries India and South Africa that would suspend IP protections for COVID-19 vaccines to allow countries to manufacture copies of the products. It is a historic reversal of the U.S.’ stance on protecting American innovators’ IP rights.

While proponents of the proposal say that IP rights are delaying patients' access to vaccines, there is no evidence to support this claim. However, undermining IP rights will harm American innovation and patients everywhere.

The U.S. is the world leader in biopharmaceutical innovation because it relies on strong IP protections to incentivize research and development. For small companies, much of the value of the company is often predicated on the strength of its IP. Weakening IP protections will undermine the development of new treatments and cures, particularly by these smaller innovative companies.

"Suppressing IP rights will undermine the industry’s ability to continue to respond to the ongoing pandemic and may delay access to vaccines in those countries that need it the most. Providing patent protected information does not guarantee that countries will be able to replicate and produce vaccines successfully. Production requires a trained workforce, access to raw materials and existing manufacturing infrastructures that some countries may lack. On the other hand, this policy may weaken existing supply chains and open the door to counterfeit vaccines,” said Joe Panetta, president and CEO of Biocom California. Click here to view the full release.