Close by the editorial staff
The editorial office
May 16, 2021 4:04 p.m. ET
Senator Elizabeth Warren in April.
Michael Brochstein / Zuma Press
Progressives are promoting President Biden’s waiver of U.S. Covid vaccine patents as necessary to save lives. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who stated the ultimate goal last week: to set a precedent that undermines all intellectual property protections in the US and around the world.
“Special [IP] Protecting pharmaceutical companies is an even bigger problem than COVID-19 alone, “the Massachusetts Senator said at a hearing for US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Wednesday. “I think now is the time for our trade negotiators to take the lead and actively set rules that will lower drug costs for American families.”
Which special protective measures? Drug manufacturers receive less intellectual property protection under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules than other companies that allow low-income countries to force drug manufacturers to license patents in emergencies. However, progressives believe that IP protection for drugs shouldn’t exist at all and that their manufacturers shouldn’t be rewarded for years of risky investment and innovation.
As Ms. Warren explained, “We are fighting over a waiver [IP] Rules – rules that should never exist. ”
Or as Oregon Senator Ron Wyden put it, intellectual property rules should “promote the common good,” which is believed to be defined by. . . Ron Wyden.
Progressives have failed to convince the majority of Congress to abolish drug patents, and so aim to do so through trade deals, starting with the WTO vaccine waiver. Recall how the Democrats last year insisted the Trump administration remove an intellectual property protection provision for biological medicines from the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal.
Ms. Warren is right when she says drug manufacturers are “kicking and shouting about this stopping the Covid vaccines”. They are concerned about the US government theft. However, they also fear that other countries, including China and India, will take advantage of their innovations and make it more difficult to raise capital for future investments and future vaccines.
Vaccine manufacturers have already licensed their patents to dozens of manufacturers around the world, but it takes time to ramp up production. Allowing unlicensed manufacturers to manufacture vaccines could compromise safety. For this reason, European heads of state and government such as the German Angela Merkel and the French Emmanuel Macron are rejecting Mr Biden’s patent waiver.
Europe’s liberals don’t want their pharmaceutical gems to be handed over to the Chinese, even if American progressives don’t mind.
Journal Editorial Report: The Best and the Worst of the Week by Kim Strassel, Kyle Peterson, Mary O’Grady, and Dan Henninger. Image: Jack Guez / AFP via Getty Images
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Published in the print edition on May 17, 2021.