As the world races to develop treatments, a vaccine, and improved diagnostics for COVID-19, there are mounting concerns that life-saving medical technologies will be priced out of reach for millions worldwide, particularly those in countries where health systems have been starved of funding. Actions that governments take now are quite literally matters of life and death. They will determine whether life-saving products are guaranteed to be affordable and accessible immediately for millions of people around the world, or whether they will repeat deadly missteps from other pandemics, delivering monopolies to profiteering pharmaceutical companies that result in price gouging and preventable deaths because scientific advances are kept out of reach of communities in need.
“We reject moves by any company to seek monopolies on COVID-19 related medical technologies, and we call for all governments to step up and put public health first,” said Asia Russell, Executive Director of Health GAP.
In a new paper, Health GAP strongly supports Costa Rica’s request for an emergency COVID-19 Technology Intellectual Property Pool (TIPP) for all countries because open science leads to quicker and better outcomes for people around the world. Written by Brook K. Baker, Health GAP Senior Policy Analyst and Professor at Northeastern University School of Law, with inputs from Charles Clift, Ellen ‘t Hoen, James Love, and others, the paper lays out the rationale for such a pool in addressing the COVID-19 global public health emergency. The paper is available online and as a pdf download.
Health GAP joins others in calling for:
Prof. Baker said: “The most irresponsible barrier in the middle of a global pandemic threatening millions of lives are government-granted monopolies to Big Pharma and Big Medical Device/Testing companies. These intellectual property monopolies not only impede open science needed to accelerate medical discoveries of new tests, therapies, vaccines, and medical devices but they also limit production to single suppliers who can in no sense meet urgent global demand and who might price gouge and prioritize supply to rich and powerful countries. We need to urgently pool medical technology intellectual property rights to allow mobilization of our best scientific efforts and to use all available global manufacturing capacity to speed medical supplies across the globe.”
Recent IP-related Developments:
Asia Russell continued: “The COVID-19 pandemic is shining a light on the avarice implicit in current, disastrously broken models of intellectual property and technology rights protection. We will not remedy this crisis or ensure access for all unless we flip the calculus and put people’s lives ahead of corporate profits.”