• January 28, 2023

Watch Out for a Vaccine Patent Heist

Pharmaceutical companies have come to the rescue of the world with Covid-19 vaccines, but no good deed of business goes unpunished these days. The Biden administration is now under pressure to support a political campaign to revoke vaccination patents.

India and South Africa filed with the World Trade Organization last fall to suspend intellectual property protection in Covid vaccines and treatments, which they believe is necessary to expand global access. Fifty-five other countries, as well as an army of nonprofits and unions, have joined in the attempted raid.

“Multibillion dollar drug companies continue to prioritize profits by protecting their monopolies,” says Bernie Sanders. Connecticut MP Rosa DeLauro added, “We need to make the policy choices in both the US and the WTO that put patients first.”

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Patent breakers represent the wrong choice between protecting intellectual property and public health. Breaking patents will not speed up the production or distribution of vaccines in poor countries. Pharmaceutical companies are expanding their production as quickly as possible, even in low-income countries.

Merck is reconfiguring factories to manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, while Novartis and Sanofi are taking Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA recordings. Novavax has won Baxter BioPharma Solutions and Endo International. The Serum Institute of India plans to make 1 billion doses of Novavax this year. J&J has hired Aspen Pharmacare in South Africa and Biological E in India.

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