Public Health

Propiedad intelectual, el derecho que se debate en el mundo por la liberación de patentes de las vacunas

Organizaciones internacionales rechazaron las medidas propuestas por la OMC. Si se aceptaran y aplicaran, sería contraproducente: profundizaría la crisis y debilitaría las bases de sustentación ante una futura pandemia.

El debate sobre el derecho de propiedad intelectual se puso al rojo vivo con la pretendida iniciativa de liberar las patentes de las vacunas.

Sin embargo, una acción de tal magnitud podría traer aparejado un efecto contrario al deseado ya que se vulneran los esfuerzos de empresas tras haber invertido cientos de millones de dólares en investigación y desarrollo.

Sobre este tópico, la Fundación Libertad y Progreso junto con otras 26 organizaciones internacionales rechazaron las medidas propuestas ante la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC), tendientes a anular los derechos de propiedad intelectual (DPI). El resultado de estas medidas, si se aceptaran y aplicaran, sería contraproducente: profundizaría la crisis en la que nos encontramos y debilitaría las bases de sustentación ante una futura pandemia.

Según el Global Health Innovation Center de Duke University, el mundo se encamina a producir 12.000 millones de dosis de distintas vacunas necesarias para brindar inmunidad de rebaño (70% de la población mundial). Una vejación masiva sobre los derechos de propiedad intelectual afectarán los incentivos para esta producción y futuras investigaciones para el bienestar de la humanidad.

El respeto por los derechos de propiedad intelectual es fundamental para acabar con la pandemia de la Covid-19 y reactivar la economía. La seguridad jurídica garantizará no sólo la producción, sino también el acceso a vacunas.

Libertad y Progreso suscribe a la declaración conjunta que establece los siguientes puntos:

*Los DPI son fundamentales para la producción a escala sostenible de vacunas;
*Los DPI son esenciales para la I&D para futuras pandemias;
*La competencia mundial, no la producción local forzada, será la que mantenga los precios bajos de las vacunas;
*Una suspensión de los DPI no tendrá efecto sobre la producción de vacunas sin una transferencia tecnológica forzada, la cual sería demasiado lenta, estaría llena de problemas legales y causaría mucho daño económico.

Al 20 de abril del 2021, había 217 vacunas anti-Covid (además de más de 600 tratamientos antivirales y terapéuticos) bajo desarrollo a nivel mundial. Este mercado competitivo e innovador se encuentra bajo riesgo con las iniciativas multilaterales anti-DPI. La escasez de vacunas en la Argentina y en otros países, no se hubiera producido o hubiera sido transitoria si los gobiernos respectivos hubieran actuado con diligencia.

Las organizaciones abajo firmantes, hacemos un llamado a los gobiernos para que protejan el sistema de innovación que ha suministrado múltiples vacunas y medicamentos anti-Covid en tiempo récord. De no ser así, la inversión futura para nuevos desarrollos para enfrentar las nuevas cepas de Covid-19 y futuras pandemias será menor y, por ende el costo humano será superior.

La declaración fue firmada por la   Asociación de Consumidores Libres de Costa Rica, Alternate Solutions Institute de Pakistán, Austrian Economic Centre de Austria, Bay Area Council Economic Institute de los Estados Unidos, Centro Mackenzie de Liberdade Econômica del Brasil, Center for Global Enterprise de los Estados Unidos,  Competere de Italia, Consumer Choice Centre de Bélgica, Free Market Foundation de Sudáfrica, Fundación Eléutera de Honduras, Fundación IDEA de México, Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy de Malasia, Geneva Network de Reino Unido, Imani Centre for Policy and Education de Ghana, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation de los Estados Unidos, Instituto de Ciencia Política de Colombia, Instituto de Libre Empresa del Perú, Istituto Bruno Leoni de Italia, Istituto per la Competitivà (I-Com) de Italia, KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific de Malasia Libertad y Desarrollo de Chile, Libertad y Progreso de Argentina, McDonald-Laurier Institute de Canadá, Minimal Government Thinkers de Filipinas, Paramadina Public Policy Institute de Indonesia, Prime Institute de Pakistán y Property Rights Alliance de los Estados Unidos.

Originally published here.

Boris Johnson’s interventionist obesity strategy will fail. We need more choice, not less to slim down

Obesity is on the rise like never before. More than one in four people in the UK are now obese, one of the driving forces behind the mortality rate from Covid. In the year leading up to the pandemic, more than a million people were admitted to hospital for obesity-related treatment in England.

Record hospitalisations should be a wake-up call. Public health authorities on both an international and national level have failed to front up to the sheer scale of the challenge. Public Health England and the World Health Organisation are both indoctrinated with interventionist tunnel vision. For them, fighting obesity is banning things, taxing them out of existence, trying to manipulate consumers with intrusive campaigns and attempting to shame them into making “better decisions”. 

Those charged with addressing public health issues are reading from the same tired hymn sheet of failed policies. They are trotting out twentieth-century ideas to deal with twenty-first-century problems and their failures have tragic consequences on an enormous scale.

The headline act in this appalling show is the government’s plan to ban junk food ads. The policy looks set to go ahead after being included in the Queen’s Speech, despite extensive campaigns calling attention to the problems with an overly intrusive approach, for the advertising industry and everyone else.

My mother, a working-class, immigrant single parent, runs a small baking business out of her kitchen. Under the mad ad ban plan, my mum posting pictures of her cakes on Instagram will become illegal. And for what? The government’s own analysis of the policy found that it will remove an average of 1.7 calories from children’s diets per day – roughly half a Smartie.

When asked about the case of a bakery with an Instagram account, the prime minister’s spokesperson was unable to offer any reassurances. A government source quoted in the Sunday Times earlier this year said: “there will be caveats – this is not aimed at small companies advertising home-made cakes online. It is aimed at the food giants.” It remains unclear how a blanket ban on a certain type of advertising can be legally targeted at some companies and not others.

The solution to the obesity crisis lies in more freedom of choice, not less. Even those evil food giants are responding to public pressure, keen to be seen making an effort in this area. McDonald’s, for instance, is providing five million hours of football training across the UK. Even Britain’s pubs play an important role, contributing more than £40 million every year to grassroots sports.

When people voice their concern en masse about a particular issue, private actors go out of their way to make themselves useful and do something about it. Countless companies are voluntarily investing in healthy lifestyle schemes or cutting back their own contributions to obesity. Tesco, for example, has laid out an ambitious plan to boost the proportion of its food sales which is made up of healthy products to 65 per cent, setting an example for the rest of the industry as the market shifts.

Attempts to centralise responses to public health crises in government and concentrate responsibility in Whitehall fail consistently. Tesco’s radical new agenda was not motivated by public health bureaucrats, but instead by demands from its own shareholders and pressure from competitors including Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer. While Public Health England is cracking down on Marmite ads and Instagram pictures of cupcakes, the group of people arguably doing more than anyone else to make Britain healthier are private corporate investors.

Companies and consumer choice are our allies, not our enemies, in the fight against obesity. Rather than trying to hold back the tide, let’s harness the power of the market to tackle obesity.

Originally published here.

Parenting, not paternalism, defeats bad diets

Parents are the best judges of the education of their children.

The European Union regulates so-called “junk food” advertising, in order to protect children from exposure to harmful content. Its rules target food that are high in energy, saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, sugar and salt. This really translates as a massive distrust in parenting.

It undoubtedly sounds terrible when we read the words “advertisements targeting children”. Children, being the most vulnerable people of all, shouldn’t be targeted like the same way a hunter peeks through a scope, which seems to be the semantic implication when the word is used. In reality, it’s hard to imagine that many consumers would regard a TV ad for corn flakes that includes a cartoon character, as predatory behaviour by marketing companies.

And yet, this is precisely what lead Chile to ban these characters on cereal boxes earlier this year, and has motivated British star-cook Jamie Oliver to demand a similar rule in the United Kingdom, despite practicing the same in his own videos. We all know the saying: do as I say, not do as I do.

Some campaigners will find this hard to believe, and yet: removing Tony the Tiger from a cereal box won’t make children eat healthier all by themselves. The entire reason why children are not considered adults, is because they cannot properly evaluate the results of their actions, and they will eat anything sweet or fatty that tastes good to them.

Unless we were to remove children completely from their parents, there would be no way for us to make sure that their nutrition is entirely according to the guidelines of national health ministries.

Between a child (as opposed to youth) seeing an advertisement and the act of purchasing the product, there is a parent who has to make the decision whether or not to allow the child to receive it. By restricting the ability to market the product, we’d forgo the judgement of the parents. Far worse, such restrictions would tell parents that the government does not believe that they are able to do their job properly.

In a similar manner, alcohol and alcohol advertising is perfectly legal and available, yet we trust the resounding majority of parents to provide educational background on alcohol to their children.

Raising awareness about the consequences of too much sugar and fat is the right way of going about this problem: it empowers consumers by providing them with information, and endorses a non-paternalistic approach. The last thing we need is for the advancements in public health to backfire due to restrictions on marketing.

As a matter of fact, branding bans can indeed backfire. Brands establish consumer loyalty, yet they can equally reverse it very quickly. If a producer is know for its brand name or logo, making mistakes will make recognizable marketing into a liability. On the other hand, competitors can exploit marketing techniques to sell better products.

Most of all, advertising bans are lazy decision making. The conversation about the education of children, and the gap between counselling parents and interfering in what they see fit for the education of their children is narrow, and requires intricate analysis.

Restricting the advertisements of “predatory” companies on the other hand is a far simpler solution to understand. It’s very much the equivalent of Ostrich effect: if I do not see it, I can make the problem go away. But as the problem does not go away with this particular ban, it is very likely that conclusion will be reached that

A) the ban wasn’t stringent enough, or that

B) MORE bans are necessary. As a result, we’re being trapped with a legislative avalanche that does not empower consumers.

Parents are the best judges of the education of their children. We should empower them as consumers through information, not paternalism.

Originally published here.

Canada under pressure to support waiver lifting patents on Covid-19 vaccines

David Clement is interviewed on CTV’s “Your Morning,” making the case for why Canada should not support the #TRIPSwaiver​ at the WHO, which would suspend intellectual property protections on COVID vaccines and tech, and what Canada and the U.S. can actually do to support increasing the global supply of vaccines.

Originally posted here.

We Don’t Need to Lift Patents to Make Vaccines More Accessible

And weakening of IP rules would actively hurt the most vulnerable.

A full 14 months into the pandemic, nearly half of Americans who are eligible have received at least one vaccine dose. The end is in sight, and we have innovation to thank. And so, as our economy reopens and restrictions are being lifted, attention is turning to hard-hit nations like India and Brazil, currently experiencing skyrocketing case numbers. 

The question, then, is how to boost vaccinations abroad. The New York Times notes that India’s outbreak is causing the country to restrict export of its own vaccines, which could hurt Africa in particular, since those nations are relying on Indian vaccines. 

In the face of pressure to use every tool available to boost vaccinations abroad, the Biden administration announced last week that it supported a proposal to waive patent protections on the COVID vaccines. 

This measure, which is called a TRIPS Waiver (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) and was put forth last fall at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa, would be far more than just a temporary fix for more shots.

If the waiver is triggered, it would ostensibly nullify IP protections on COVID vaccines, allowing countries and companies to copy the formulas developed by private vaccine firms in hopes of making their own, with no guarantee of success or safety.

The coalition backing Biden’s pledge includes Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and World Health Organization Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who first backed this effort in 2020 before any coronavirus vaccine was approved.

Intellectual property rights are protections that help foster innovation and provide legal certainty to innovators so that they can profit from and fund their efforts. A weakening of IP rules would actively hurt the most vulnerable—the same people that groups who support the IP waiver are nominally trying to help.

The power to issue the waiver comes from a section in the 1995 treaty that created the World Trade Organization, meant to protect intellectual property among global trade partners. While a COVID vaccine waiver would be the most substantial one to date, similar efforts have been attempted on both HIV/AIDS medicines and generic drugs, the latter the only other successful case.

The push for a waiver ignores that many companies have voluntarily pledged to sell their vaccines at cost or even offered to share information with other firms. Moderna, for its part, has stated it will not enforce the IP rights on its mRNA vaccine during the pandemic and will hand over any research to those who can scale up production. The developers of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have pledged to sell it at cost until the pandemic is over.

Further, this measure would have far-reaching implications. Supporters claim that because COVID represents such a global threat and because Western governments have poured billions in to securing and helping produce vaccines, low and middle-income countries should be relieved of the burden of purchasing them. But rich countries are already donating vaccines to the World Health Organizations COVAX program, which gifts countries vaccines free of charge.

There are a few reasons that a TRIPS waiver is unlikely to be the most efficient solution. The vaccines require specialized knowledge to develop and produce these vaccines, and the mRNA vaccines require cold storage. As economist Alex Tabarrok has pointed out, vaccine makers have been scouring the globe for adequate vaccine facilities but fallen short. 

It  seems implausible that any of this could be achieved outside the traditional procurement contracts we’ve seen in the European Union and the U.S. What is more likely is an increase of botched and unsafe vaccines that would be risky for vulnerable populations, as philanthropist Bill Gates has claimed in his opposition to the waiver.

If the cost of researching and producing a COVID vaccine is truly $1 billion as is claimed, with no guarantee of success, there are relatively few biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies that can stomach that cost. And distribution would be an entirely different story.

If Biden’s administration wants to help vulnerable nations, there is an easier way: release the tens of millions of doses of AstraZeneca vaccines sitting dormant in warehouses, which the FDA has not yet approved, and begin exporting our vaccine surplus to the most hard-hit countries. That’s precisely why the COVAX initiative was created, and why the U.S. should support it.

Meanwhile, let’s also look at the future implications of moving now to restrict IP protections for the very companies that have delivered the life-saving vaccines that will get us out of our current pandemic.

BioNTech, the German company headed by the husband-wife team of Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci that partnered with Pfizer for trials and distribution of their mRNA vaccine, was originally founded to use mRNA to cure cancer. Before the pandemic, they took on massive debt and scrambled to fund their research. Once the pandemic began, they pivoted their operations and produced one of the first mRNA COVID vaccines, which hundreds of millions of people have received.

With billions in sales to governments and millions in direct private investment, we can expect the now-flourishing BioNTech to be at the forefront of mRNA cancer research, which could give us a cure. The same is true of many orphan and rare diseases that do not otherwise receive major funding.

Would this have been possible without intellectual property protections?

If we want to be able to confront and end this pandemic, we will continue to need innovation from both the vaccine makers and producers who make this possible. Granting a one-time waiver will create a precedent of nullifying IP rights for a host of other medicines, which would greatly endanger future innovation and millions of potential patients.

Especially in the face of morphing COVID variants, we need all incentives on the table to protect us against the next phase of the virus. 

Rather than seeking to tear down those who have delivered the miracle of quick, cheap, and effective vaccines, we need to support their innovations and provide supplies to countries who need them. Symbolic gestures that will have drastic consequences, especially on the most vulnerable, just aren’t up to the task.

Originally published here.

Скасування патентів на КОВІД-вакцини вб’є інновацію у світі

Що потягне за собою скасування патентів на вакцини

Раніше цього тижня адміністрація президента Байдена підтримала призупення захисту прав інтелектуальної власності у Світовій Організації Торгівлі (СОТ). Таке рішення було прийнято з метою пришвидишити вироблення вакцин і відповідно вакцинацію населення світу, зокрема це стосується країн, що розвиваються. Наслідком підривання прав інтелектуальної власності стане різке зменшення інновації у світі, чорний ринок вакцин, і негативне бачення вакцинації як такої.


У жовтні 2020 року Індія та Південно-Африканська Республіка вперше висунули глобальну пропозицію про відмову від деяких положень Угоди про торгові аспекти прав інтелектуальної власності (TRIPS) Світової організації торгівлі (далі – СОТ), щоб дозволити будь-якому виробникам фармацевтичних препаратів виготовляти вакцини COVID та розповсюджувати їх. Крім патентів, йшлось про інші форми захисту прав інтелектуальної власності, щоб забезпечити виготовлення та розповсюдження необхідних медичних виробів, таких як маски, вентилятори, засоби індивідуального захисту.

З тих пір ця пропозиція отримала підтримку понад 100 країн, в тому числі Франції, Іспанії та, нещодавно, США.

Але Австралія, поряд із Великобританією, ЄС, Швейцарією, Японією, Бразилією та Норвегією, як і раніше утримуються від підтримки. Німеччина особливо наполеливо виступає проти підривання захисту патентів.

“Пропозиція США про скасування захисту патентів на вакцини від COVID-19 має серйозні наслідки для виробництва вакцин в цілому”, – сказала речниця уряду Німеччини. Вона додала, що “захист інтелектуальної власності є джерелом інновацій і має залишатися таким і в майбутньому”.

Що таке TRIPS

Угода TRIPS є невід’ємною частиною правової бази СОТ щодо інтелектуальної власності. Згідно зі статтею 27 (2) Угоди TRIPS, країни-члени СОТ можуть виключити патентоспроможність винаходів, необхідних для захисту здоров’я населення. Стаття 30 дозволяє учасникам робити обмежені винятки з прав, наданих патентом.

Серед іншого, угода, основною метою якої є захист прав інтелектуальної власності, також включає положення про примусове ліцензування або використання предмета патенту без дозволу правовласника (стаття 31). По суті, це означає, що “у разі надзвичайної ситуації в країні чи інших обставин надзвичайної невідкладності або у випадках некомерційного використання в державних цілях” держава-член може дозволити комусь іншому виробляти запатентований продукт без згоди власника патента.

Тоді як за звичайних обставин особа чи компанія, яка подає заявку на ліцензію, повинна спочатку спробувати отримати добровільну ліцензію у правовласника на розумних комерційних умовах (стаття 31b). Однак немає необхідності намагатися отримати добровільну ліцензію спочатку за гнучкістю TRIPS, про яку власне йде мова.

Таким чином, гнучкість TRIPS дозволяє країнам замінити глобальні правила інтелектуальної власності, щоб зменшити шкоду, заподіяну надзвичайною ситуацією, і в основному має предметом фармацевтичні препарати.

Поточні пропозиції Індії та Південної Африки спрямовані на більшу гнучкість, ніж передбачена в Угоді TRIPS.

Скасування патентів на вакцини є політичним та недалекоглядним рішенням.

Якими будуть наслідки

Імплементація пропозиції зробить можливим виробляння вакцин компаніями, які за нормальних умов могли би не отримати дозвіл на виготовлення вакцини через брак виробничих потужностей і знань загалом, чи можливості забезпечити правильне зберігання. Таким чином, після скасування патентів не буде жодних гарантій безпеки виробництва вакцин, що стане прямою загрозою для здоров’я людства. Якщо дози будуть вироблятись сторонніми постачальниками, спираючись на запатентовані формули та процеси, але без спеціалізації, це збільшить ризики псування вакцин або виготовлення поганих недіючих вакцин, які підірвуть вакцинацію загалом.

Фальшиві вакцини не просто підірвуть світовий вихід з пандемії, але й поставлять під загрозу життя та зменшать довіру до вакцин.

Кращий спосіб заохотити справедливий розподіл існуючих вакцин – це не усунути фінансові стимули а зробити те, що більшість виробників вакцин проти COVID-19 насправді вже роблять: зниження їх цін для країн, що розвиваються, або продаж вакцини на вартість. Розробники вакцини Оксфорд-АстраЗенека пообіцяли продавати за собівартістю, поки пандемія не закінчиться.

Чому важливо захистити права інтелектуальної власності

Противники прав інтелектуальної власності часто роблять помилку, сприймаючи інновації як належне, тим самим закриваючи очі на рушійну силу будь-якого виду підприємництва: економічні стимули. Патенти та різні інші форми інтелектуальної власності не є упередженими щодо винахідника. Навпаки, вони гарантують, що компанії можуть продовжувати впроваджувати інновації та постачати свою продукцію споживачам.

Короткотерміновим результатом зниження прав інтелектуальної власності буде розширений доступ до інновацій, але в довгостроковій перспективі інновацій не буде. 

Нам потрібно захищати права інтелектуальної власності, якщо ми хочемо перемогти коронавірус та багато інших захворювань. Пацієнти, яким одного разу можуть поставити діагноз невиліковних захворювань, таких як хвороба Альцгеймера, діабет або ВІЛ/СНІД, повинні скористатися шансом на отримання ліків, а захист прав інтелектуальної власності – це єдиний спосіб надати їм такий шанс.

Originally published here.


Consumer Choice Center (Centro de Escolha do Consumidor) tem acompanhado de perto os efeitos da pandemia na vida dos consumidores, desde o acesso e distribuição da vacina até as consequências no mercado interno e international.

Para Fabio Fernandes, diretor global de Relações Institucionais e Governamentais da entidade de defesa do consumidor Consumer Choice Center, “agora que grande parte dos países do mundo tem acesso à vacina, a próxima luta não será contra o vírus mas pela recuperação econômica”

“As leis e acordos de propriedade intelectual como o TRIPs – do qual o Brasil é signatário – foram fundamentais na descoberta e desenvolvimento em um curtíssimo espaço de tempo da vacina para o COVID-19. Porém algumas pessoas querem flexibilizar essas regras, o que causaria danos irreversíveis” disse Fernandes.

“Precisamos permanecer firmes em nossa defesa dos direitos de propriedade intelectual se quisermos derrotar o coronavírus e as suas variantes, além de muitas outras doenças que hoje são incuráveis. Proteger a propriedade intelectual é a única maneira de dar a esses pacientes uma chance de cura. Se agirmos sem temperamento agora, expandindo ou flexibilizando a TRIPs e enfraquecermos ainda mais os direitos de PI, causaremos danos que dificilmente serão reversíveis, e o mundo pós-pandêmico terá de pagar a conta.”

No Brasil, o artigo 40 da Lei de Direitos de Propriedade Intelectual nº 9.279/1996 que está sendo julgado pelo STF, é um mecanismo criado para compensar atrasos administrativos do Inpi (Instituto Nacional de Propriedade Industrial) e concede automaticamente à patente uma exclusividade mínima de dez anos.

Para Fernandes “Os consumidores estão preocupados com a possibilidade de novos produtos, tecnologias e medicamentos não estarem disponíveis no Brasil por uma insegurança jurídica. A lei de propriedade intelectual no Brasil está de acordo com o padrão internacional e essa decisão do STF pode enfraquecer esse direito pondo em risco o futuro da inovação no Brasil”

“Vacinas para o setor de agropecuária, remédios contra o Câncer, componentes de informática como microchips para celulares, telecomunicações como a rede 5G e até Inteligência Artificial são alguns exemplos de produtos e inovações que podem atrasar ou até mesmo nunca chegarem ao mercado brasileiro se o Artigo 40 for derrubado” afirmou Fernandes.

“A raiz do problema não é o parágrafo 40 e sim os enormes atrasos que os órgãos públicos brasileiros causam na aprovação de patentes. Esses atrasos prejudicam não apenas as empresas que solicitam proteção de patentes, mas também os consumidores e pacientes que aguardam a aprovação das patentes para ver a entrada de produtos e medicamentos no mercado brasileiro.” explicou Fernandes.

“Os maiores interessados em derrubar o parágrafo 40 são as indústrias farmacêuticas de medicamentos genéricos e biossimilares, que usam os consumidores para fazer campanha para ‘redução nos preços’. O que precisamos na realidade é adotar políticas que baixem impostos e diminuam a burocracia e não aquelas que legalizam o roubo de propriedade intelectual, afinal, os consumidores querem as mais novas tecnologias com preços competitivos e não produtos velhos baratos.” argumentou Fernandes.

“A inovação é resultado de um ambiente de segurança jurídica que permita o inventor de ser remunerado pelo enorme tempo e dinheiro investido em desenvolver a nova tecnologia. Privar o inventor do seu direito acaba por privar também os consumidores acesso à inovações e o país de crescer economicamente no médio e longo prazo. Por isso a Estratégia Nacional de Propriedade Intelectual tem um horizonte de 10 anos” disse Fernandes.

“Qualquer tentativa de erodir a propriedade intelectual deve ser vista pelo que realmente é: uma ameaça à inovações futuras e à nossa recuperação econômica pós-pandemia.” concluiu Fernandes.

Originally published here.

Le Canada devrait bloquer une dispense de brevet pour les vaccins COVID

L’octroi d’une dérogation unique crée un dangereux précédent d’annulation des droits de propriété intellectuelle, mettant en péril l’innovation future et la vie de milliards de victimes de virus.

Affaires mondiales Canada n’a toujours pas pris de décision sur l’opportunité de soutenir une dérogation aux droits de propriété intellectuelle pour les vaccins COVID-19. Le Canada, ainsi que les États-Unis, l’UE, le Royaume-Uni, la Suisse, le Japon, la Norvège, l’Australie et le Brésil, ont tous retardé leur décision sur la «dérogation aux ADPIC» proposée par l’Inde et l’Afrique du Sud l’année dernière. L’ADPIC est le volet «Aspects des droits de propriété intellectuelle liés au commerce» de l’OMC.

L’Inde et l’Afrique du Sud sont soutenues par une coalition comprenant Médecins sans frontières, Human Rights Watch et le secrétaire général de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Leur argument en faveur de la dérogation est simple: cela supprimerait les barrières juridiques qui empêchent les pays en développement de produire leurs propres vaccins avec la technologie développée par les entreprises de vaccins.

Les partisans de la dérogation soutiennent que parce que le COVID représente une telle menace mondiale et que les vaccins ont maintenant été développés, les pays à revenu faible et intermédiaire devraient être autorisés à les fabriquer eux-mêmes – ceux qui ont la technologie et le capital humain pour le faire, c’est-à-dire.

Bien que l’objectif d’accroître la disponibilité des vaccins dans le monde en développement soit à la fois noble et réalisable, une dérogation à la propriété intellectuelle est une mauvaise façon d’y parvenir. L’annulation des droits de propriété intellectuelle détruit le fondement de ce qui rend l’innovation médicale possible. Les droits de propriété intellectuelle sont des protections qui contribuent à favoriser l’innovation et offrent une sécurité juridique aux innovateurs afin qu’ils puissent profiter de leurs efforts et les financer. Un affaiblissement des règles de propriété intellectuelle nuirait activement à tous ceux qui dépendent de médicaments et de vaccins innovants, y compris les plus vulnérables du monde.

Si le coût de la recherche et de la production d’un vaccin COVID est de 1 milliard de dollars, sans garantie de succès, il y a relativement peu de sociétés biotechnologiques ou pharmaceutiques qui peuvent supporter ce coût. Dans le cas du COVID, compte tenu des connaissances spécialisées nécessaires pour développer ces vaccins et de l’infrastructure de stockage frigorifique nécessaire pour en distribuer certains, il semble peu plausible qu’ils aient pu être développés sans les contrats d’approvisionnement traditionnels que nous avons vus en Amérique du Nord.

BioNTech, la société allemande dirigée par l’équipe mari-femme d’Uğur Şahin et Özlem Türeci qui s’est associée à Pfizer pour les essais et la distribution de leur vaccin ARNm, a été fondée à l’origine pour essayer de développer des moyens d’utiliser les techniques d’ARNm pour guérir le cancer. Avant la pandémie, il s’est endetté massivement et s’est brouillé pour financer ses recherches. Une fois que la pandémie a commencé, elle a fait pivoter ses opérations et a produit l’un des premiers vaccins à ARNm COVID, que des centaines de millions de personnes ont reçu.

Avec des milliards de dollars de ventes aux gouvernements et des centaines de millions d’investissements privés directs, nous pouvons nous attendre à ce que BioNTech, désormais florissante, soit à la pointe de la recherche sur le cancer à ARNm, ce qui pourrait éventuellement guérir la maladie. Il en va de même pour les nombreuses maladies «orphelines» et rares qui, autrement, ne reçoivent pas de financement majeur.

Cela aurait-il été possible sans les protections de la propriété intellectuelle? Non. Les protections de la propriété intellectuelle garantissent que les innovateurs peuvent profiter de leurs efforts, recouvrer leurs coûts et réinvestir dans la recherche et le développement de nouveaux médicaments et vaccins.

Une meilleure façon d’encourager une distribution équitable des vaccins existants est de ne pas éliminer les incitations financières pour en créer de nouveaux, mais de faire ce que la plupart des fabricants de vaccins COVID-19 font déjà en fait: réduire leurs prix pour les pays en développement ou vendre le vaccin à Coût. Les développeurs du vaccin Oxford-AstraZeneca se sont engagés à vendre au prix coûtant jusqu’à la fin de la pandémie.

Pour sa part, Moderna a volontairement décidé de ne pas appliquer les droits de propriété intellectuelle sur son vaccin ARNm tant que la pandémie n’est pas déclarée terminée. Après cela, Moderna reprendra l’application de ses droits de propriété intellectuelle sur sa technologie, ce qui lui permet de continuer à recouvrer les coûts et à financer la future R&D. La non-exécution est son droit, bien sûr: c’est le titulaire des droits. Les gouvernements et autres agences, y compris privées, peuvent également acheter des vaccins en vrac et les distribuer gratuitement aux pays à faible revenu, comme le fait le plan multilatéral COVAX.

Vous pourriez penser que ces concessions des producteurs de vaccins et les contributions des gouvernements suffiraient à réprimer les appels à la dissolution de la propriété intellectuelle, mais les partisans d’une dérogation à la propriété intellectuelle ont doublé. Médecins sans frontières, par exemple, souhaite que toutes les recherches et technologies liées aux vaccins COVID soient mises à la disposition des pays qui en ont besoin, ce qui équivaut à l’annulation complète des protections de propriété intellectuelle.

Plutôt que de célébrer l’innovation capitale qui, en un temps record, a conduit à près d’une douzaine de vaccins approuvés au niveau mondial pour lutter contre une pandémie mortelle, ces groupes diffusent un message populiste qui oppose les pays pauvres aux riches. S’il est encore politiquement à la mode de s’en tenir à «Big Pharma», même après avoir fourni les vaccins qui mettront fin à la pandémie, les conséquences de raids IP organisés de ce type seraient horribles.

Pour mettre fin à la pandémie actuelle et lutter efficacement contre les futures, nous avons besoin de l’innovation des producteurs de vaccins qui ont rendu possible la campagne mondiale actuelle de vaccination. L’octroi d’une dérogation supposée unique crée un dangereux précédent d’annulation des droits de propriété intellectuelle qui mettrait en péril l’innovation future et donc la vie de milliards de victimes de virus, actuelles et potentielles.

Originally published here.

Canada should block a patent waiver for COVID vaccines

Granting a one-time waiver creates dangerous precedent of nullifying IP rights, jeopardizing future innovation and lives of literally billions of virus victims

Global Affairs Canada still has not come to a decision on whether to support an intellectual property rights waiver for COVID-19 vaccines. Canada, along with the U.S., EU, U.K., Switzerland, Japan, Norway, Australia and Brazil, have all delayed deciding on the “TRIPS waiver” put forward by India and South Africa last year. TRIPS is the “Trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights” part of the WTO.

India and South Africa are supported by a coalition including Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and World Health Organization Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Their argument in favour of the waiver is simple: it would remove the legal barriers that prevent developing countries from producing their own vaccines with the technology developed by vaccine firms.

Waiver supporters argue that because COVID represents such a global threat and because the vaccines have now been developed, low and middle-income countries should be allowed to manufacture them on their own — those that have the technology and human capital to do so, that is.

Although the goal of increasing vaccine availability in the developing world is both noble and attainable, an IP waiver is a bad way to go about achieving it. Nullifying IP rights destroys the bedrock of what makes medical innovation possible. Intellectual property rights are protections that help foster innovation and provide legal certainty to innovators so they can profit from and fund their efforts. A weakening of IP rules would actively hurt everyone who depends on innovative medicines and vaccines, including the world’s most vulnerable.

If the cost of researching and producing a COVID vaccine is $1 billion, with no guarantee of success, there are relatively few biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies that can stomach that cost. In the case of COVID, considering the specialized knowledge needed to develop these vaccines and the cold storage infrastructure required to distribute some of them, it seems implausible that they could have been developed without the traditional procurement contracts we’ve seen in North America.

BioNTech, the German company headed by the husband-wife team of Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci that partnered with Pfizer for trials and distribution of their mRNA vaccine, was originally founded to try to develop ways of using mRNA techniques to cure cancer. Before the pandemic, it took on massive debt and scrambled to fund its research. Once the pandemic began, it pivoted its operations and produced one of the first mRNA COVID vaccines, which hundreds of millions of people have received.

Originally published here.

How to tackle obesity in the EU

With the end of the pandemic in sight, European policymakers are reflecting on what could have been done to prevent the damage.

Obesity, recognised by many scientists as a severe risk factor COVID-19, is likely to top the European policy agenda. However, while the temptation to slide into paternalism and impose advertising and marketing restrictions, or potentially, sin taxes is high, it is crucial to follow the evidence and protect the freedom to choose.

Earlier this month, Members of the European Parliament debated the possibility of introducing EU-wide rules to restrict junk food ads targeting children, while Germany pushed the self-regulating body of the ad industry to tighten its rules in regards to junk food advertising. 

Currently, there is no common EU definition on what makes for junk food but there have been multiple attempts to introduce Union-wide regulation of advertising. Article 9.4 of the updated 2018 Audiovisual Media Services Directive 2010/13/EU encourages the use of co-regulation and the fostering of self-regulation through codes of conduct regarding salty or sugary foods. However, Germany’s new regulation is wider in scope and aims to integrate all online channels that can have an impact on children’s nutrition choices. Germany’s shift towards more paternalism will be felt across the Union, and there is every reason to expect other member states to follow.

The link between advertising — in particular TV ads — and childhood obesity is unfounded. If it was possible to reduce obesity with the help of advertising bans, the success of such a strategy would be also visible in regards to other products such as alcohol. One study looked at bans on broadcast advertising in seventeen OECD countries for the years 1975-2000, concerning per capita alcohol consumption. It was found that a complete ban of broadcast advertising of all beverages does not affect consumption relative to countries that do not ban broadcast advertising.

Advertising or marketing bans stem from the assumption that the sole reason why obesity develops and persists is due to poor nutrition. But that is not the case: obesity is a matter of physical inactivity too. According to a report published by the European Commission and WHO in 2018, only 19% of 11-13-year olds in Germany were physically active. The situation is disastrous, and by opting for junk food ad bans, the German government will simply regulate in the wrong direction.

The effectiveness of these bans is highly questionable too. The UK recently dropped its plans to introduce such a ban because it was found that nutrition would have been decreased by slightly more than 1000 calories per year per child, but have a negative impact on businesses and consumers.

In order to tackle child obesity, we should encourage parental responsibility. Childrens’ choices are heavily dependent on the environment where they grow up and often model behaviours that are treated as acceptable. Parents who don’t lead healthy lifestyles will likely make it seem like exercising and eating vegetables is less rewarding than lying on a couch all day long and drinking soda. Furthermore, it is crucial that parents display healthy eating behaviour through activities such as family meals.

Instead of resorting to advertising and marketing bans, the EU and member states should also focus on educating children about junk food consumption and general health to ensure they can make informed and responsible consumer decisions.

Originally published here.

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