The drug lobby has asked US President Joe Biden to punish countries including India, South Africa, Chile, Colombia, Hungary and others for seeking increasing production of Covid-19 vaccines without express consent from big pharma companies. The drug lobby is fighting for tight control over vaccine production and seeking punishment for countries pushing for low-cost vaccines.
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The drug industry has filed documents to U.S. Trade Representative Office outlining the suspected risk posed by any attempt to challenge “basic intellectual property protections” in response to Covid-19. The drug lobby criticizes any attempt to share technological knowledge to manufacture vaccine or vaccine patents.
Drug industries have made some specific demands in this latest filing to influence the ‘Special 301 Report’ of the Joe Biden administration.
The U.S. Trade Representative allows the public to comment on countries named in the annual Special 301 Report who fail to protect intellectual property rights.
“If you look at the pharma submissions this year, they are now directly complaining about Covid-related responses at the country level,” said Brook Baker, a Northeastern University law professor and expert on intellectual property.
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“Pharma’s response to the pandemic is: ‘Our system is perfect. All the monopoly rights we have to need to be preserved and extended, and anyone who’s not giving us what we want should be condemned by the U.S. government.’”
Developed countries have already secured more than half of covid-19 vaccine contracts as per one estimate.
Governments across the world are planning temporary exemption to traditional intellectual property rights to produce Covid-19 treatment rapidly at a low cost. This decision is opposed by American lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry.
Foreign governments are pushing the pace of production to set the price of vaccines. Biotechnology Innovation Organization, or BIO, argued with drug lobbyists, “It will place American jobs and the workers who rely on them at risk, and impede scientific advances from reaching society.”
Another drug lobby group PhRMA requested President Joe Biden to “pursue a variety of enforcement initiatives” and “use all available tools and leverage to ensure America’s trading partners” do not suspend traditional intellectual property rights in the fight against the coronavirus.
PhRMA and BIO represent the world’s largest drug firms including Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences and Pfizer. The two groups spent more than $38 million lobbying federal officials collectively in 2020.
Some other drug industry-funded groups include the National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Intellectual Property Owners Association and the Alliance for Trade Enforcement. These groups also requested President Joe Biden administration to punish countries that challenge corporate intellectual property rights in response to the Covid-19. These groups do not seem to be in favour of sharing intellectual property.
As GreatGameIndia reported earlier, the US, UK and the EU countries blocked India and South Africa’s move to ban COVID-19 vaccine patents at the WTO (World Trade Organization).
The proposal was vehemently opposed on the grounds that such a ban would stifle innovation at pharmaceutical companies by robbing them of the incentive to make huge investments in research and development.
Moreover, Bill Gates funded and British led GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) has already created a system called “Performance based funding” whereby they financially punish nations based on their compliance or non-compliance to vaccination programs.
If that was not enough, Pharma giant Pfizer has been holding sovereign governments to ransom making bizarre demands asking for bank reserves, embassy buildings and military bases as collateral in return for COVID-19 vaccines.
For latest updates on the outbreak check out our Coronavirus Coverage.