USCIB is urging the Biden Administration to oppose current efforts at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to extend a waiver of rules under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement to COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics. USCIB remains disappointed with the TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 vaccines announced at the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in June; it is staunchly opposed to extending the waiver to COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics.
Rules under the TRIPS Agreement are being challenged today by nations seeking to leverage the pandemic to gain unfettered access to competitively sensitive, proprietary biopharmaceutical manufacturing technology. In a letter to senior Administration officials dated September 12, USCIB contends that the TRIPS agreement provides ample flexibility to address disparities in access to medicines and treatments; the real problem is insufficient healthcare infrastructure and distribution systems necessary to distribute and adminster vaccines and medicines to remote populations around the globe, as well as residual vaccine hesitancy. “Extension of the TRIPS waivers is a solution in search of a problem, undermining innovation, global health security, international rule of law, and faith in the global trading system,” argued USCIB Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation and Trade Brian Lowry.
USCIB further asserts that “it took decades studying coronaviruses and developing messenger RNA (“mRNA”) technologies to lay the foundation for the highly effective COVID-19 vaccines and other medicines of today. These revolutionary innovations, developed at unprecedented speed and scale, were fueled by global rules that protect IP which provide companies with confidence to undertake high-risk ventures over extended timelines.” No nation has more to lose from weakened intellectual property rules than the United States, which leads the world in biopharmaceutical and technological research, Lowry stressed.
The letter was addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs at the National Security Council Jacob Sullivan, Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese, Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President Ashish Jha and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Kathi Vidal.