NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons urged Biden administration officials to support innovative manufacturers and reject a dangerous proposal to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and other products.
- Timmons’ call went out to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and senior White House officials.
The situation: Timmons’ advocacy comes in response to a World Trade Organization proposal that would waive IP rights for a broad range of COVID-19 products, putting American innovation and jobs at risk.
- As this goes to press, the U.S. and other countries are actively negotiating potential text ahead of the WTO’s forthcoming ministerial conference that kicks off this Sunday.
The issue: IP rights have been crucial in supporting American innovation and manufacturing during the pandemic. They have incentivized the rapid development of vaccines, COVID-19 therapeutics, personal protective equipment and other essential products and created the legal certainty for hundreds of innovative partnerships to ramp up their production.
The challenge: The controversial WTO proposal is rooted in the false premise that global vaccination efforts are lagging due to a lack of supply.
- “The primary challenge to global COVID-19 vaccination is not supply, but distribution and demand,” said Timmons.
- Facilitating global COVID-19 vaccination will take solving supply chain bottlenecks and logistical challenges while improving the ability of local health systems to deliver the vaccines and effective treatment.
The way forward: Instead of the waiver, the U.S. should push for creative efforts to fight COVID-19, including building consensus for the Trade in Health Initiative, working with like-minded countries to develop practical innovations that leverage increased trade and targeting WTO-identified trade bottlenecks.
- “The NAM and its members stand ready to work with you and your agencies to advance solutions that will, once and for all, tackle this devastating pandemic,” said Timmons.
NAM in action: The NAM recently launched an advertising campaign in key states and districts on the issue, urging the administration to protect American jobs and innovation.
Further reading: POLITICO Pro (subscription) covers the growing skepticism about the potential waiver, including doubts on the left.