Intellectual property rights for COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics were a major topic of discussion during the first two days of the World Trade Organization’s General Council meeting this week, according to POLITICO Pro (subscription).
The background: Last month, the WTO agreed to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines—and NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons pushed back on the decision.
- “This damaging decision will undermine American innovation, competitiveness and technology leadership—weakening manufacturing in America and threatening the jobs of manufacturing workers. Even worse, the agreement could exacerbate the supply chain and logistical hurdles that represent the biggest current challenges to global efforts to ensure access to critical COVID-19 products.”
December 17 deadline: WTO member countries have until December 17 to decide whether the agreement to waive intellectual property rights for the vaccines also extends to COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics.
U.S. weighs in: On Tuesday, the U.S. clarified that it viewed December as a deadline to decide whether to extend the waiver to therapeutics and vaccines, not as a mandate to take that action.
NAM opposition: In the wake of the U.S. clarification, Timmons once again expressed manufacturers’ opposition to an expanded waiver, urging Secretary of State Tony Blinken and other administration officials to stand against it.
- “An expanded waiver would also do nothing to address our biggest current challenges related to pandemic response, including supply chains and distribution and demand for critical pandemic products,” said Timmons. “Instead, it could exacerbate these challenges by stressing the supply of critical inputs for manufacturers ramping up production and by distracting policymakers from effective solutions to these issues.”