The profits of the pharmaceutical industry are protected by a fortress of patents that guarantees the flow of income to pharmaceutical manufacturers until they expire. On Wednesday, Joe Biden broke through decades of U.S. orthodoxy and caught a crack in the wall.
Of his administration Decision There was immediate outrage in the pharmaceutical sector for supporting the temporary waiver of the Covid-19 vaccine patents, arguing that the move would rely on their intellectual property rights and discourage U.S. innovation when sending jobs abroad.
“Intellectual property is the lifeblood of biotech, it’s like oxygen to our industry,” said biotech investor Brad Lonker. “You don’t have a biotech sector if you remove it.”
Biden’s top trade adviser, Catherine, said the US government still had a “strong belief” in protecting intellectual property, but its patents supported the waiver. Covid-19 vaccines To help Jaber increase global production.
This step comes as a few countries India, The fight to combat more waves of viruses and even others have successfully campaigned for vaccinations that could lead to infections, hospitalization and death.
The waiver proposal was submitted to the World Trade Organization in October and has since been backed by more than 600 countries who say global vaccine production needs to increase dramatically to keep the virus at bay. Washington’s support has been hailed as an important step in making the proposal a reality, and it has said the United States will take part in the talks to present details of the waiver to the WTO.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gherbais told the Financial Times that it was a “memorable moment” in the fight against the decision. Covid-19. “I am not surprised by this announcement. This is exactly what I expected from President Biden’s administration. ”
However, the pharma industry did not expect it; The United States has tended to strictly defend the intellectual property rights of domestic companies in trade disputes. Industry leaders described the decision as a serious blow to innovation that would do little to boost global production because of the lack of manufacturing facilities and skilled workers.
“The administration’s actions here are extremely unnecessary and harmful,” said Jeremy Levine, chairman of the biotech trade association Bio.
Shares of major manufacturers of the Covid-19 vaccine were hurt by the announcement. Frankfurt-listed shares of Bioentech fell 14 percent on Thursday. In New York, Modenna and NovaVax closed at 3 percent to 6 percent the day before.
Soven Borho, managing partner of healthcare investment firm Orbimed Advisors, said pharma executives feared the administration’s move would set a precedent that would make it easier to suspend patents in the future.
“They’re concerned in the long run that it’s a foot in the door – ‘OK, we did it through Covid-19, let’s do it with the next crisis and the next one’,” he said. “And then all of a sudden it’s a cancer drug patent that needs to be revoked. They fear it is a process that sets the stage for future action. “
Peter Bach, director of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, said the epidemic needed to occur against the risk of drug traffickers becoming more cautious when investing in pioneering therapy in the future.
“If the move allows for more access and more lives today in 2021, and the fruit comes down the street, we may not get some new gene therapy for 100 children, but the batch is worth discussing,” Bach said.
The fight for intellectual property rights is the first major international patent dispute since the late 1990s, when brands and drug dealers in several countries, including South Africa, clashed over expensive HIV treatment.
Epidemic-infected countries wanted to create their own generic versions of their HIV drugs, but the companies that developed them interpreted the move as a breach of patent agreement and created a wave of lawsuits that frustrated efforts to supply cheap pills.
Members of the pharmaceutical industry have argued that suspending patents on the Covid-19 vaccine in an effort to boost production abroad would hurt jobs in the US biotech sector. The Donald Trump administration strongly opposed the waiver last year.
Levine said U.S. technology “could create jobs in the United States, but moving abroad could be a significant loss in creating very high quality jobs.” [here]”
The mRNA technology used in the Bionetech / Pfizer and Moderner vaccines is being tested for the treatment of other diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, and pharma lobbyists have claimed that suspending their patents would allow other countries to piggy back on US research progress.
The long-term consequences are unclear. Umar Rafat, an analyst at Everco’s ISI, noted that the waiver was not permanent and that other influential players, including the EU and the UK, had not yet backed the Biden administration’s move.
Borho of Orbimed says: “This is a unique situation. I think it will be narrow in the end and only in the Covid-19 vaccines. I don’t think the Biden administration wants to reduce broad patents for the biotech or pharma industry. “
Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
“The pharmaceutical industry has said that the epidemic is not time for business as usual,” said Jane Rizvi, a public citizen pharmacologist. “Taxpayers are financed by billions of dollars, [vaccine makers] There is a moral need to stop opposition efforts to spread. . . Production