“Ever so softly, European politicians are beginning to voice a once unthinkable threat by suggesting they could snatch patents from drug companies to make up for massive shortfalls in the supply of coronavirus vaccines.
Big Pharma businesses have for many years regarded EU countries as unquestioningly loyal allies over intellectual property rights in the international trade arena. The EU could always be relied upon to defend U.S., Japanese and European drugmakers from poor nations in Africa and South Asia that have long wanted the recipe of critical medicines to be handed over to generic manufacturers.
But fury over the inability of companies to deliver on contracts amid the COVID-19 pandemic means that now even European politicians, from the Italian parliament to German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, are arguing, albeit cautiously, that patents may no longer be as sacrosanct as they once were….”
“There aren’t enough vaccines to go around in the richest countries on earth, let alone the poorest ones.
That’s why it makes little sense that the United States, Britain and the European Union, among others, are blocking a proposal at the World Trade Organization that would allow them, and the rest of the world, to get more of the vaccines and treatments we all need.
The proposal, put forward by India and South Africa in October, calls on the W.T.O. to exempt member countries from enforcing some patents, trade secrets or pharmaceutical monopolies under the organization’s agreement on trade-related intellectual property rights, known as TRIPs….”