India is the world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs, and South Africa is another big producer. Both are angry that the U.S. and Europe have blocked intellectual-property rights suspension of Covid-19 vaccines that most countries are in favor of.
A commentary piece in today’s Wall Street Journal by Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU) advisory board member, James Pooley, says “I’ve heard this line of attack before, and it is fraught with danger.”
Pooley is a former Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an organization formed under the UN.
“Vaccines and most other medications couldn’t exist without private industry investing in the risky research and development that yields new discoveries,” writes Pooley. “The patent system has been carefully designed to preserve the balance that keeps new treatments coming while allowing for broad public access.”
Under current WTO rules, for example, the world’s least-developed countries are exempt from certain critical patent-law obligations.
The World Trade Organization will decide on today whether to approve a proposal from two of the largest generic drug suppliers in the world Indian and South African, that would allow countries to disregard intellectual-property protections on Covid vaccines and therapeutics. For Pooley’s full WSJ op-ed go here.
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