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The pharmaceutical companies objected to Biden’s proposal to abandon the vaccine patent

The pharmaceutical industry is debating President Joe Biden’s decision to back up patent protection for the COVID-19 vaccine, arguing that it will undermine innovation and narrow the capital supply chain. was very stressful.

(Photo: Protesters in favor of eliminating vaccine patents)

The Biden administration on Tuesday announced that the United States would support the proposal through the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily lift the intellectual property protections for the corona virus vaccine. in an effort to assist other nations that are struggling to quell outbreaks in their own countries. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai called the administration’s reversal policy “extraordinary measures … to end this pandemic.”

The Biden administration justified the move on the grounds that the temporary lifting of patent protection for the COVID-19 vaccine would empower poorer countries to develop universal versions of the vaccine. -please.

But the pharmaceutical industry says such deregulation will expose trade secrets to hostile nations and hinder biotech innovation.

“It is a blatant promise. … It won’t lead to more people being vaccinated. On the contrary, it has the potential to make the situation worse because the problem is not in the patent issue, ”said Stephen Ubl, CEO of pharmaceutical trade group PhRMA, on Fox Friday.

“The message they send the scientists is frightening,” Ubl said. “Quite frankly, if another bad medical incident happens, the more important your invention is, the more likely you are to hand it over to the rival countries.”

This week, pharmaceutical companies argued that patent protection is not an obstacle developing countries must overcome in order to produce vaccines on a large scale.

According to Brent Saunders, president of Vesper Health and former Allergan chief executive officer, the real obstacle to boosting vaccine supplies is a limitation in the supply chain to bring raw materials to countries. need them.

“There are more practical ways to get people to be vaccinated, and that’s really by bolstering production capacity and pushing supplies, not by giving up intellectual property, The lifeblood of innovation in the biopharmaceutical industry, ”Saunders said Friday.

Economists also argue that giving up intellectual property rights will not be enough to lift barriers for other countries to produce their own vaccines. Instead, an international agreement to contribute raw materials and technological tools to the production of vaccine doses, combined with a waiver of patents, will promote vaccine production.

Monica de Bolle, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said that when countries agree to an agreement to produce raw materials, commit to not restricting exports and not disrupting the supply chain, [vaccine] production capacity can be increased on a large scale.

Proponents of the [vaccine IPR] ​​exemption argue that the United States, which is expected to have enough vaccines for all adults by the end of May, has a moral obligation to help improve Global production capacity is still limited. Without a boost to the pace of production, many poor countries will not be able to adequately vaccinate their populations for another two or three years, according to the Center for Global Development, an international policy organization.

The Biden administration recently announced that the US will fund India raw materials to speed production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been approved for use abroad but not in the US.

However, the administration’s new stance on giving up [patent] will not yield immediate results as the pharmaceutical industry is expected to wage a protracted war against efforts to promote this.

“The transfer of US innovations to other countries is undermining our leadership role in biomedical discovery,” Ubl said. “These are the real challenges we have to face, and [Mr. Biden’s] empty promise ignores it.”

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