Intellectual property rules will encourage drug and vaccine firms to invest in the production capacity needed during future pandemics, according to industry group IFPMA.
The industry group stressed the need for “robust” IP laws in a statement issued earlier this month, arguing access to vaccines and medical countermeasures is in part determined by developers’ willingness to invest in local manufacturing capacity.
“Fostering sustainable manufacturing globally that can scale-up for high volume supply in future pandemics. The right enabling environment to attract sustainable investments and predictable demand will be critical to maintain existing capacity and introduce new capacity in other regions.
“Robust intellectual property protection is a requirement for fast-tracking partnerships, including for voluntary licensing and or early voluntary technology transfers that result in a lasting and economically viable manufacturing base that produces safe, effective, and quality products.”
The IFPMA (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations) – whose members include major COVID-19 vaccine developers like Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca – also urged national governments to facilitate a supportive trading environment with “open borders and the removal of trade restrictions.”
Such measures are needed “to counter vaccine nationalism and enable the free movement of vaccines, treatments, and their raw materials and supplies, as well as the movement of people needed to support their manufacture by sharing technical know-how,” according to the IFPMA.
IFPMA’ suggestion IP is vital to increase access to vaccines and countermeasures during public future health emergencies is at odds with the findings of an earlier study by researchers at McGill University.
According to author Professor Richard Gold: “During the pandemic, intellectual property was not a significant driver of innovation; instead, it contributed to limiting and then delaying global access to vaccines and drugs.
“Although companies played a critical role in vaccine and antiviral development, they financed their work through the prospect of large procurement contracts rather than the prospect of IP. Procurement, together with early-stage funding, came largely from government.”