The suspension of the Covid patents is the story behind Biden’s decision


Joe Biden last year pledged to support the U.S. government’s move toward the pharmaceutical industry by backing a move to end companies ’rights to their intellectual property in covid vaccines. “It’s the only humanitarian work on earth,” He said During a campaign in July 2020.

But until the moment this decision was announced this week, many in government and industry doubted that the US president was living up to his campaign promises. Not only did several high-ranking members of his administration have doubts, but a few pharma executives believed that any U.S. government would indeed take a stand against the powerful lobby in the industry.

“No one really thought Biden would take over the pharmaceutical lobby. [they thought] Brandon Barford, a partner at Bacon Policy Advisors, a Washington-based consultancy, said he would be terrified. “But before the financial crisis [of 2008], Everyone thought the financial services industry was untouchable, then it changed. This week, it was seen that pharma companies are the new banks. “

When India and South Africa approached the World Trade Organization in October last year with the first proposal Suspend The intellectual property rights of all Covid-related drugs and technologies, it was quickly discontinued. The United States and the European Union have stated opposition to using force or imposing sanctions on Trips.

Biden’s comments on the campaign have opened the door to changes in US policy. However, when Catherine, the U.S. top trade envoy, launched multiple departmental consultations on the issue last month, most officials thought the U.S. would maintain the position taken by the Donald Trump administration.

“There is pressure from Democratic members of Congress to do this,” a senior lobby in the pharma industry told the Financial Times last month. “But the White House will never support it.”

Over the course of the next three weeks, Tai met with people who were interested in the subject, from trade union leaders to chief executives of vaccine manufacturers. Many of those who attended the meeting said it was difficult to say what he was planning to do, but people on both sides of the debate believed he had backed down.

Asia was part of a virtual meeting on April 13 with Russell Tai, executive director of Health Gap, an organization dedicated to improving access to HIV drugs worldwide.

“We don’t think he made up his mind when he met us,” said Russell, an aspiring evangelist. “But he told us that the government’s response to the Kovid crisis could not be business as usual, which we found very encouraging.”

Two weeks later, he held a virtual meeting with senior executives at each of the companies that were present. Covid vaccines Approved in or near the United States: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, NovaVax and AstraZeneca.

They I told him Supporting the Trips waiver would undermine the U.S. vaccine rollout by increasing competition for the supply of rare vaccine products and allow Russia and China access to U.S. technological breakthroughs. “We’ve made a strong case and he certainly seems to be listening,” said one pharmaceutical artist involved in the discussion.

Those who have made the deal with Tai say his indifference is his greatest asset. “[Tai] There’s no one you ever want in your poker game, because he’s kicking your ass, “said one of the people who took part in the consultation.

Meanwhile, high-ranking members of the Beadon administration have expressed concern over the pardon. According to most people involved in the discussion, Commerce Secretary Gina Raymondo was, most obviously, particularly concerned about the long-term impact on American intellectual property rights with her department’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Several others said David Castler, head of Operation Warp Speed, was against the waiver, which is part of a government program to help develop vaccines. A person involved in the consultation said Kessler described it as the “third rail” for the pharmaceutical industry – so much was charged that it was not touched. A spokesman for Kessler did not respond to a request for comment.

One of the most high-profile personalities of voice concern is Anthony Fawcett, the president’s chief medical adviser and one of America’s most popular public health experts. Just two days before the decision was announced Told the Financial Times He was “agnostic” about the issue, but was concerned that it could involve the United States through lengthy lawsuits by pharma companies.

Fawcett’s remarks drew a backlash from progressive campaigners, who accused the administration of bowing to the pharmaceutical lobby.

But people in the administration say the wrath of the progressives has not won the day.

Instead, both National Security Adviser Tai and Jack Sullivan argued that it was a risky way to protect the Biden administration’s diplomatic victory, which had caught fire due to not exporting more vaccines and Failed to respond adequately From the Kovid crisis published in India. The lawsuits threatened by how long the WTO talks would take and would not happen at all if others, including the UTO and the EU, continued to oppose the move.

A day after Fauki made the remarks, he presented his findings to Biden at a meeting at the Oval Office. Also present were Ron Klein, the president’s chief of staff, Bruce Reed, Klein’s deputy, Slivan, and Jeff Gentes, head of the White House Covid Task Force. None of the prominent opponents of the idea were present; Raymondo was in Connecticut at the time, his department said.

The president and his advisers were particularly persuaded to support the waiver for diplomatic reasons, they briefed the meeting. “This is not a way to end the epidemic,” said one administration official. “But politically it is not understood.”

Proponents of the waiver say they will now monitor the talks at the WTO to make sure it is not being shut down where it will take effect. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already said she opposes the move.

But whatever Washington says, whatever the outcome of the WTO talks, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is now lost in the shackles of untouchability. Future policy debates such as how to reduce the cost of U.S. drugs could have major consequences, as patent protection is costly which allows pharmaceutical companies to charge premium prices for some time without fear of competition from cheap generic competitors.

“The Democratic Party now has a broad sense that something needs to be done about drug prices,” Barford said. “Showing what the president has just done is possible.”

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