Countries Are Adapting Intellectual Property Laws to Prioritise Health During COVID-19

“Intellectual property (IP) rights can potentially impede mass production of existing health products, as well as innovation and research and development of new products. IP rights can be exercised by their owners to grant or withhold from licensing the technology required for manufacturing or further developing a product. If a license is denied, the technology will not be available for other firms to manufacture or supply.

Usually, a bundle of several IP rights can exist around a particular technology. It is very common patenting strategy in the pharmaceutical industry to take separate patents on the main compound of a drug and a large number of secondary patents on different formulations and combinations, dosage, as well as other possible therapeutic use of a drug. This can make it difficult for follow on innovators to invent around the thicket of IP rights….

Through a resolution of the World Health Assembly on COVID-19, member states of the WHO have recognised the possible need for countries to adopt measures to ensure that IP rights do not constrain global equitable access to health technologies for COVID-19 through the full use of the flexibilities of the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) as well as voluntary pooling of patented technologies, data and know-how….

A number of flexibilities available under the TRIPS Agreement can be applied by governments to ensure that IP rights do not constrain innovation and availability of health technologies required for responding to COVID-19….

It is time for developing countries to review the extent to which such measures can be adopted, or what changes, if any, need to be introduced into their legal regimes so as to be able to act effectively and timely to address the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic….”

New COVID-19 Legal Database | O’Neill Institute

“Launching today, the COVID-19 Law Lab initiative gathers and shares legal documents from over 190 countries across the world to help states establish and implement strong legal frameworks to manage the pandemic. The goal is to ensure that laws protect the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities and that they adhere to international human rights standards.

The new Lab (at www.COVIDLawLab.org) is a joint project of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University….”

Pharma CEOs and IFPMA comment on WHO proposal for COVID 19 technology pool. – YouTube

“At a May 28 press briefing organized by the international Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA), Pharma CEOs and the IFPMA DG comment on WHO proposal for global pool for rights in technologies for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Pascale Soriot, the CEO of AstaZeneca, a company receiving a reported $1.2 billion in funding from the US agency BARDA, claims he was “not aware” of the WHO proposal. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla is the most negative, calling the proposal, dangerous. At 2:30 on this clip, Thomas Cueni of IFPMA claims that a focus on vaccine patents is misplaced since know-how is the larger issue, and he claims that there has never been a compulsory license on a vaccine patent.

There have been, of course, many disputes over patent rights for vaccines, and know-how, data and even access to cell lines, is actually part of the Costa Rica/WHO proposal for a COVID-19 technology pool, which, Thomas Cueni, a former journalist, certainly understands. The full IFPMA briefing is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wMMwDshed0 …”

Pharma CEOs and IFPMA comment on WHO proposal for COVID 19 technology pool. – YouTube

“At a May 28 press briefing organized by the international Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA), Pharma CEOs and the IFPMA DG comment on WHO proposal for global pool for rights in technologies for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Pascale Soriot, the CEO of AstaZeneca, a company receiving a reported $1.2 billion in funding from the US agency BARDA, claims he was “not aware” of the WHO proposal. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla is the most negative, calling the proposal, dangerous. At 2:30 on this clip, Thomas Cueni of IFPMA claims that a focus on vaccine patents is misplaced since know-how is the larger issue, and he claims that there has never been a compulsory license on a vaccine patent.

There have been, of course, many disputes over patent rights for vaccines, and know-how, data and even access to cell lines, is actually part of the Costa Rica/WHO proposal for a COVID-19 technology pool, which, Thomas Cueni, a former journalist, certainly understands. The full IFPMA briefing is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wMMwDshed0 …”

Equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and treatments

“In the interests of global public health, we ask you to commit to the following steps:

• Impose public interest conditions on all UK funding committed to develop COVID19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. These should ensure the final product is affordable, accessible and available for everyone who needs it, within the UK and developing countries. This can be done by stipulating that there should be no monopolies or exclusivities attached to any medical products developed using UK public funding. Furthermore, conditions should include full transparency in all stages of R&D, including registration and public reporting of clinical trial data, R&D costs, manufacturing costs and product prices. Any contracts agreed with companies and partners using public funds should also be made publicly available.

• Make a public statement in support of the proposal from the President and Minister of Health of Costa Rica for the WHO to create a global pooling mechanism for rights in COVID19 related technologies for the detection, prevention, control and treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Where patents, monopolies or exclusivities already exist on medical products that are potentially useful for tackling COVID-19, the UK government should issue crown use licenses where necessary to ensure scale up of production and ensure affordable access to these products. COVID-19 is unprecedented as a public health emergency, and access to these medical products cannot be restricted by intellectual property rights.”

Big drugmakers under pressure to share patents against coronavirus | Financial Times

“Drugmakers are facing mounting calls to give up their patent rights for potentially life-saving treatments and vaccines for coronavirus as authorities worldwide race to curb the pandemic’s death toll. The heads of the World Health Organization and Unitaid, a UN-backed group funding global health innovation, have welcomed a proposal devised by Costa Rica for companies voluntarily to pool their intellectual property for all medical interventions — including treatment, vaccines and diagnostics….”

WHO Director General ‘Welcomes’ Costa Rica Call For Pooled Rights To COVID-19 Treatments; G-20 Pledges Broad Support To Emergency Response – Health Policy Watch

“World Health Organization Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has welcomed the call by Cost Rica’s President, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, for WHO to launch an initiative that would “pool rights to technologies that are useful for the detection, prevention, control and treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic.”…”

WHO asked to create voluntary intellectual property pool for Covid-19 work

“Seeking to widen access to medical products for combating Covid-19, the Costa Rican government has asked the World Health Organization to create a voluntary pool to collect patent rights, regulatory test data and other information that could be shared for developing drugs, vaccines and diagnostics.

The move comes amid a worldwide race to fight the novel coronavirus, but also mounting concerns that some products may not be accessible for poorer populations. By establishing a voluntary mechanism under the auspices of the WHO, Costa Rican officials are hoping to create a pathway that will attract numerous governments, as well as industry, universities and non-profit organizations….”

Global research on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

“WHO is gathering the latest scientific findings and knowledge on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and compiling it in a database. We update the database daily from searches of bibliographic databases, hand searches of the table of contents of relevant journals, and the addition of other relevant scientific articles that come to our attention. The entries in the database may not be exhaustive and new research will be added regularly….”

Global research on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

“WHO is gathering the latest scientific findings and knowledge on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and compiling it in a database. We update the database daily from searches of bibliographic databases, hand searches of the table of contents of relevant journals, and the addition of other relevant scientific articles that come to our attention. The entries in the database may not be exhaustive and new research will be added regularly….”