It’s all about IP, with the World Health Organization (WHO) suggesting more IP waivers in future pandemics and BIO submitting comments to USTR on global threats to IP. Plus, we recap what was said at yesterday’s Farm Bill hearing about Mexico’s corn ban. (734 words, 3…
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February 2, 2023
It’s all about IP, with the World Health Organization (WHO) suggesting more IP waivers in future pandemics and BIO submitting comments to USTR on global threats to IP. Plus, we recap what was said at yesterday’s Farm Bill hearing about Mexico’s corn ban. (734 words, 3 minutes, 40 seconds)
Draft WHO pandemic treaty suggests future IP waivers
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests waiving intellectual property rights during the next pandemic in the initial draft of its global pandemic preparedness treaty, released to the press yesterday.
What’s in the draft? One key provision would make wealthier countries set aside 20% of any vaccines or treatments developed to share with poorer countries, Reuters says. It would also require concessions from drug makers who receive government support, Health Policy Watch says.
What does it say about IP? In a pandemic, countries should “support time-bound waivers of intellectual property rights that can accelerate or scale up manufacturing of pandemic-related products” and should “apply the full use of the flexibilities provided in the TRIPS Agreement,” which can mean IP waivers.
BIO opposes IP waivers—because waivers eliminate incentives to innovate. "Robust IP protections enable the innovations that are the foundation of the dynamism in the U.S. biotech sector," says BIO Interim CEO Rachel King. "To prepare for future pandemics, global leaders should focus on strengthening these protections worldwide to encourage more--not less-- biotech innovation around the world to combat future threats to human health."
The Washington Post: I wrote about high-priced drugs for years. Then my toddler needed one. A healthcare journalist writes about her own experience with a health insurance company’s step therapy program after her son was diagnosed with systemic onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
BIO recommends 11 countries for USTR's IP watchlist
USTR’s “Special 301” reportdetails threats to IP from other countries, identifying trade challenges that must be resolved to “maintain enabling environments for innovation” worldwide.
BIO outlined several challenges to IP:
Compulsory licenses that effectively eliminate patents in some countries.
Forced localization of R&D, manufacturing, or other operations in exchange for selling drugs in a country.
Disclosure of confidential commercial data submitted to regulatory authorities.
Obstacles to obtaining patents.
Legal difficulty in enforcing patents.
BIO recommends 11 countries for USTR’s “Priority Watch List”: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea.
Why it matters: Protection of IP is essential to “the innovative capacity of the bioscience sector to address global challenges from human health, to food production and security, to clean energy and sustainability,” BIO explains.
That means: “A robust global IP system is core to this innovation and economic growth and is consistent with a worker-centric U.S. trade policy that prioritizes American workers and jobs,” says BIO.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): “When it comes to agricultural trade, the concern I hear most from Iowans is access to Mexico’s corn market.”
Sen. Deb Fisher (R-NE): “I did appreciate your remarks to Sen. Grassley earlier that there is no negotiating on Mexico’s ban on biotech corn, because the science is clear on that.”
Sen. John Thune (R-SD): “I’m concerned about this administration’s lack of attention to expanding market access for U.S. agricultural products. I hope your and USTR Ag Chief Negotiator McKalip are turning points when it comes to ag trade.”
The response: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary Alexis Taylor said her office appreciates the importance of trade with Mexico, “but much broader than that, fundamentally, our trading system, globally but also within the [U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement], is built on science-based policies.”
The next steps: Expect a year full of Farm Bill hearings—and many opportunities to discuss this important issue.
Henrietta Lacks passed away from cervical cancer at 31, but some of her cells lived on. Her story, and her “HeLa” cells, tell us a lot about the promise of medical innovation and the pitfalls of not centering patients and their families in research and care.
President Biden’s Thursday: Meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan to discuss Mideast tensions, per Axios, followed by a meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, where police reform will be on the agenda, per USA Today.