The Standing Committees on TRIPS and Pharma at the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property, (Association Internationale pour la Protection de la Propriété Intellectuelle – AIPPI), recently released an AIPPI Bureau approved position paper on the waiver for certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19 proposed by some countries within the WTO.
“AIPPI is pleased to contribute its thoughts on this important issue and trusts that the discussions at the WTO TRIPS Council will result in an appropriate global and balanced approach,” said Anne Marie Verschuur, Reporter General of AIPPI.
“For several years now, AIPPI members and in particular our TRIPS and Pharma Committee members have been extensively studying the role of intellectual property in helping to address health issues affecting the global community. The COVID-19 pandemic underscores our need for a reliable framework supported by all stakeholders, which encourages an urgent response to critical health challenges enabled by the recognition of game-changing innovations,” said Catherine Mateu, Chairperson of the AIPPI TRIPS Committee.
Charles Boulakia, Vice Chairperson of the AIPPI Pharma Committee noted that, “Our AIPPI Pharma Committee includes 52 members; 44 members voted in support of the paper with no members against. All are intellectual property professionals with an excellent understanding of the issues, from all over the world, including some of the countries most affected by the current pandemic. As a Canadian, I can completely understand the frustration people are currently having with accessibility to COVID-19 vaccines. However, it’s important to not throw the baby out with the bath water… The current intellectual property system is carefully thought out and there are already provisions in place in most countries for exceptional circumstances. We need a robust IP system to ensure that there is adequate incentive for research and development to address the next pandemic”.
From the position paper:
“AIPPI shares the concerns raised by the waiver proponents and co-sponsors, and echoed by other WTO members, international organisations, and the public opinion with respect to the challenges posed by the current pandemic to a plurality of aspects of the world’s society and economy”.
“Moreover, our Association applauds the calls for an active commitment to a comprehensive, global approach that leverages the entire multilateral trading system in place to support the research, development, manufacturing, and distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 diagnostics, equipment, therapeutics, and vaccines”.
“AIPPI is not aware of evidence that intellectual property rights constitute a barrier for accessibility of COVID-19 related medicines and technologies. In the opinion of AIPPI, waiving TRIPS provisions would negatively impact the framework established to reach the objectives mentioned above on both a medium and a long-term basis. AIPPI also urges WTO members to recognize how intellectual property rights have contributed to the advancement of science and to innovations in medicine and public health. The recently developed COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics were discovered based on years of research supported by intellectual property rights”.
“AIPPI believes that the execution, the implementation and the consequent effects of a waiver in various legal systems should be appropriately assessed before any change or waiver is effected”.
“We trust that the discussions being held at the WTO TRIPS Council will (1) find an appropriate global approach to contribute to solving the problems posed by the current pandemic, while (2) balancing the right of all to have access to health services and supplies with other stakeholders’ rights and (3) safeguarding, with a long-term view, the system that has proven effective in nurturing innovation and enabled the world to achieve a stage of technological development advanced enough successfully to develop, produce and deploy multiple state-of-the-art responses to pressing global challenges in record time, as we all have recently witnessed”.