Leaked TRIPS proposal misguided about improving global COVID-19 vaccination rates

Leaked TRIPS proposal misguided about improving global COVID-19 vaccination rates

24 March 2022: The leaked proposal on the waiver on intellectual property (IP) rights for COVID-19 vaccines is misguided and will not speed up access for world vaccination against the virus.

Medicines Australia CEO, Elizabeth de Somer, said the TRIPS proposal is unnecessary and irrelevant and will only weaken our IP systems.

“The TRIPS waiver is a distraction from taking action on issues that will actually help more people around the world to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Ms de Somer said.

“It has now been two years since the start of the pandemic and the issues of vaccine inequity could not be clearer. We must put our energy towards overcoming the obvious hurdles such as supporting country readiness, investing in initiatives such as COVAX for equitable vaccine distribution and addressing vaccine hesitancy.

“Strong and well-established IP laws and regulations have accelerated – not inhibited – the discovery and development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

“This attempt to weaken IP will disincentivise research and development on innovative medicines, vaccines, and treatments, and have negative, unintended consequences for future pandemic preparedness.

“There is still a lot of work ahead of us if we are to tackle improving global vaccine rates, especially those in low-income countries.

“The World Health Organization has forecast there are now enough doses to achieve global vaccination targets. The focus must be on equitable distribution. We should not be distracted by the hollow noise of the TRIPS waiver.

“Medicines Australia continues to support practical, global efforts that will tackle COVID-19 vaccine inequity.

“We continue to encourage the Australian Government to bolster funding to initiatives such as COVAX and work in collaboration with our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific to increase vaccine rates.

“The recent commitment of $100 million from the Australian Government to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) will help the organisation control COVID-19 and battle future pandemics.

“As a nation that values generosity and mateship, the Australian Government must help improve low vaccination rates in low-income countries. This includes helping our closest neighbours in Papua New Guinea who still have a dangerously low vaccination rate of 2.75%,” Ms de Somer said.

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You can also further statements about the leaked TRIPS waiver from IFPMA (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations) and ICBA (International Council of Biotechnology Associations).

For further information or media interviews, please contact:

Chrystianna Moran – 0424 995 118 / chrystianna.moran@medicinesaustralia.com.au.

John Flannery – 0419 494 761 / john.flannery@medicinesaustralia.com.au

BACKGROUND:

TRIPS is the agreement on Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which is an international legal agreement between all the member nations of the World Trade Organization.

ABOUT MEDICINES AUSTRALIA

Medicines Australia leads the research-based medicines industry of Australia. Our members discover, develop and manufacture prescription pharmaceutical products, biotherapeutic products and vaccines that bring health, social and economic benefits to Australia. Our members invest in Australian medical research and take local discoveries and developments to the world.

Our mission is to drive policy outcomes in partnership with government, health sector organisations and the community which will ensure Australians have universal, affordable, and fast access to treatments that keep pace with advancements in medicine.

COVID-19 pandemic sends clear message that Australia must value the long-term health of all Australians

COVID-19 pandemic sends clear message that Australia must value the long-term health of all Australians

21 February 2022:  Medicines Australia is warning that Australia must act now to ensure that our health system is resourced properly to deal with growing demand and to cope with inevitable future pandemics and health crises.

Medicines Australia CEO, Elizabeth de Somer, said that the global COVID-19 pandemic has sent a clear message that all nations must future-proof their health systems.

“We must prepare for the future. This will involve planning for a strong health workforce; health infrastructure; public health policy and strategy; medical technology; community education and information campaigns – and medicines,” Ms de Somer said.

“It is vital that we remove any disincentives to research and development of medicines, including vaccines and curative therapies, that will be needed in the years and decades ahead.

“Currently in Australia, the priority is on medicines that deliver an immediate or short-term benefit.

“Treatments that have a shorter-term benefit are economically valued higher than a treatment that has a longer or lifetime benefit. For example, a cancer treatment that may increase someone’s survival rate for an extra five years is valued more highly than a vaccine that will protect a child for the rest of their life.

“As a society, Australia must treat all these medicines – which save lives, extend lives, and protect quality of life – more equally.

“This can be achieved by a simple change in policy by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).”

Medicines Australia has made a detailed submission – based on international best practice and experience – to the PBAC to change its position on this policy, which is known as the base discount rate.

Australia’s current discount rate has not been adjusted for more than 30 years to reflect the contemporary medical and health environment and does not align with international health technology assessment (HTA) best practice.

“Our high discount rate is ignoring the health needs of our future generations,” Ms de Somer said.

“Medicines Australia wants the PBAC to reduce Australia’s current discount rate of 5 per cent to 1.5 per cent, as recommended in countries such as Canada and England, to recognise the value of preventative treatments and cures, and speed up access to them.

“This would provide an incentive for research, development, and production of more new medicines that will be ready to deal with current, emerging, and future health conditions.

“It will better prepare our health system to deal with the complexities of future pandemics and other public health crises. It will strengthen the health system to allow it to save lives and improve the quality of life for our children and their children,” Ms de Somer said.

The Medicines Australia submission recommends an immediate change of the discount rate.

The Medicines Australia Submission to the PBAC on the Discount Rate is available at www.medicinesaustralia.com.au/policy/submissions.

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For further information or media interviews, please contact:
Chrystianna Moran – 0424 995 118 / chrystianna.moran@medicinesaustralia.com.au
John Flannery – 0419 494 761 / john.flannery@medicinesaustralia.com.au

>> Download fact sheet on discount rates

Background:

What is a discount rate?

Discount rates reflect how society values future outcomes compared to present outcomes. Many medicines, vaccines and treatments provide long-term health benefits. For example, a child receiving a polio vaccine will reap the benefits of that vaccine for the rest of their life. On the other hand, a new cancer treatment may increase someone’s survival rate for an extra 5 years. In Australia, the treatment that has a shorter-term benefit (the cancer treatment) is economically valued higher than a treatment that has a long or lifelong benefit.

For treatments that have long-term or lifelong benefits, a discount rate is applied, which means that the medicine is not valued as highly. The PBAC set the base discount rate at 5 per cent in 1990 with reference to Canada. Since that time, this discount rate hasn’t changed, despite other countries (including Canada and England), lowering base discount rates to make way for more preventative and curable medicines, vaccines, and treatments.

The discount rate is determined by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), whose primary role is to assess and recommend new medicines and treatments to be listed on the PBS. Part of the PBAC’s Health Technology Assessment (HTA) includes deciding whether a new medicine, vaccine, or treatment is safe and cost-effective compared to an existing treatment.

Why the discount rate needs to change

Our society and values have changed since 1990 and there is an increasing recognition of the importance of preventative healthcare. The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is just one example of the importance of preventative therapies.

If left unchanged, the discount rate will risk significantly reducing patient access to cutting edge therapies and affecting the long-term future health of generations of Australians, particularly young people who stand to benefit the most from preventative medicines early in their life.

In Australia, the 5 per cent discount rate has contributed to delays in accessing vital therapies – including vaccines for human papilloma virus (HPV) in adolescents, meningococcal disease in children and adolescents, zoster virus for 60-year-olds, and pneumococcal disease for adults, as well as medicines to treat hepatitis C, and treatments for spinal muscular atrophy in children.

Health and medical innovation is advancing faster than we have ever seen before, in particular when it comes to preventative treatments. Australia can’t afford to miss out on these new medical advances that can change or save lives.

Recommendation

The Strategic Agreement between Medicines Australia and the Commonwealth Government commits to reviewing the PBAC base case discount rate against international health technology assessment (HTA) best practice.

Medicines Australia has made a recommendation to PBAC to lower its discount rate from 5 per cent to 1.5 per cent.

This recommendation is based on a review of international HTA discount rate practice, the impact of high discount rates on access to medicines, and government policies that stress the importance of long-term health, such as Australia’s Long-Term National Health Plan.

A lower discount rate of 1.5 per cent will:

  • recognise the value of long-term future health benefits;
  • prove to the Australian people and the world that our population’s future health is valued;
  • contribute to improving the speed of patient access to new and innovative therapies;
  • promote PBAC decision-making equity; and
  • align with the Commonwealth Government’s preventative health agenda.

It is important that the new discount rate is applied as soon as possible. The change could take effect by a simple adjustment to the PBAC Guidelines and could be implemented by July 2022.

Statement on the arrival of the Novavax vaccine and COVID-19 pills

Statement on the arrival of the Novavax vaccine and COVID-19 pills

20 January 2022: Medicines Australia welcomes the TGA’s provisional approval for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine and the provisional approval for two medicines for the symptoms of COVID-19 (Pfizer’s ‘Paxlovid’ and Merck Sharp & Dohme’s ‘Lagevrio’).  

“The Novavax vaccine, called ‘Nuvaxovid’, has now passed the TGA’s rigorous assessment and approval processes. Adding this vaccine to our arsenal is another step forward for Australia as we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said CEO of Medicines Australia, Elizabeth de Somer. 

The Novavax vaccine is the first protein COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in Australia, but the technology has been around for decades. Vaccines to prevent hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection are both based on similar protein technology.  

The TGA has also provisionally approved two oral COVID-19 treatments for Australia, ‘Paxlovid’ from Pfizer and ‘Lagevrio’ from Merck Sharp & Dohme. Both companies are members of Medicines Australia. 

“Welcoming not one, but two new treatments for Australians who are suffering from the COVID-19 virus is another demonstration of pioneering medical technology,” said Ms de Somer.  

The two treatments are oral medicines, the first of their kind, and will be available to Australian adults who are at risk of serious illness from the virus, building on the protection from COVID-19 vaccines.  

Medicines Australia will continue to work closely with all our partners across healthcare to ensure Australians have access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.  

For further information, visit the Department of Health website for accurate, evidence-based answers to questions about COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. 

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For media enquiries and interview opportunities, please contact:
Chrystianna Moran – 0424 995 118 / chrystianna.moran@medicinesaustralia.com.au

mRNA manufacturing facility will deliver long term health benefits for Australians

mRNA manufacturing facility will deliver long term health benefits for Australians

14 December 2021: Medicines Australia welcomes the announcement that Australia will manufacture mRNA vaccines in a deal struck with Moderna today.

The manufacturing facility is expected to open in Victoria in 2024 pending regulatory and planning approvals. Once operational, the facility will have the capacity to produce 100 million mRNA COVID-19 vaccines each year and contribute to future pandemic preparedness.

“This is a major milestone for all Australians as we continue to fight COVID-19. It is also an enormous health opportunity for our country and will mean Australia can develop new, innovative vaccines and potentially new therapeutics that can meet the future needs of Australian patients,” said Liz de Somer, CEO of Medicines Australia.

Liz de Somer spoke about Australia’s extraordinary R&D capabilities and the flow-on effects the manufacturing facility will have in creating job opportunities, increasing R&D capabilities and timely access to medicines, therapeutics and vaccines for Australians.

“Domestic manufacturing can translate innovative research into real, long-term health and economic outcomes for Australians. The mRNA manufacturing facility will add to our high-quality medical research infrastructure and grow our skilled workforce of scientists and healthcare professionals,” she said.

Ahead of the announcement, Medicines Australia called for a national approach for mRNA manufacturing at the Senate inquiry into Australia’s manufacturing industry.

Medicines Australia is pleased to see the Federal Government working together with the States and Territories on such an important initiative which will benefit all Australians. The innovative biopharmaceutical industry looks forward to building on this in the coming years to increase Australia’s advanced manufacturing capabilities and boost the competitiveness of our life sciences ecosystem.

“In order to continue to grow our sovereign biopharmaceutical capacity and capability and to compete globally, we must improve the coordination, consistency and collaboration across Australia to drive greater social, health and economic benefits to ensure no Australian patient is left behind,” concluded Ms de Somer.

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For media enquiries and interview opportunities, please contact:
Chrystianna Moran – 0424 995 118 / chrystianna.moran@medicinesaustralia.com.au

Pharmaceutical industry backs workplace vaccinations

Pharmaceutical industry backs workplace vaccinations

5 October 2021: Medicines Australia strongly recommends full COVID-19 vaccinations for the health and safety and protection of all employees, including those who work in the biopharmaceutical industry.

The release of the biopharmaceutical industry position follows a growing number of high-profile employers, including member companies, who introduced mandatory vaccination policies last month.

Medicines Australia are powerful advocates for the COVID-19 vaccine and stand by those who require employee vaccinations to protect the health and safety of employees, manufacturers, frontline health workers, patients, and the community they work with during these unprecedented times.

Medicines Australia is the industry peak-body for the biopharmaceutical industry in Australia, who employ almost 15,000 people around the country1.

Elizabeth de Somer, CEO of Medicines Australia, said supporting the global and national vaccine rollout must remain a strong priority.

“The more people who get vaccinated, the less likely it is people will become critically sick from COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, according to well-understood standards of scientific and clinical evidence. We must do all that we can to protect one another, including in the workplace,” she said.

“This is a proud moment in our industry’s history. I am grateful to the highly skilled Australian workforce who are making a real difference to the health of all Australians.”

In a position developed for members, Medicines Australia outlined five key principles that underpin support of workplace COVID-19 vaccinations:

  1. 1. Vaccinations are a critical pillar of public health policy as they guard against the spread of communicable diseases and reduce the burden of illness on individuals, families, the community, and the broader healthcare system.
  2. 2. High vaccination rates must be encouraged to support herd immunity and prevent the COVID-19 virus from easily spreading from person-to-person.
  3. 3. Education is a critical component in building confidence in vaccinations.
  4. 4. The TGA rigorously assess any COVID-19 vaccine for safety, quality, and effectiveness before it can be supplied in Australia. Post Market quality safety and efficacy is assured through robust pharmacovigilance and traceability mechanisms.
  5. 5. Health is fundamental to ensure the economic prosperity of Australia and the world.

Everyone in Australia aged 12 years and over is now eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccination. To find out more about eligibility and local state and territory information, visit the Department of Health website.

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Media contact: Chrystianna Moran
+61424 995 118 / chrystianna.moran@medicinesaustralia.com.au

1 Arna Richardson, 2019, IBIS World. Pharmaceutical Product Manufacturing in Australia

Medicines industry continues to protect Australians from medicine shortages

Medicines industry continues to protect Australians from medicine shortages

ACCC extends approval for ongoing collaboration 

30 September 2021: Following 18 months of working closely to protect Australian patients against medicine shortages, the Australian medicine industry has been given the green light by the competition regulator to continue its successful collaboration.

Peak industry bodies, Medicines Australia (MA) and the Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (GBMA) have been granted a further conditional interim authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to continue to work together, with the Government, to secure the supply of essential medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MA-GBMA Working Group, established early last year, allows their respective member companies to coordinate with the Government so that potential or emerging medicine shortages are quickly and effectively identified and managed.

Today’s decision comes after nearly two extraordinary years where Australian medicine researchers and the local and global biopharmaceutical sector have worked tirelessly to research, develop, manufacture, and deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

Elizabeth de Somer, CEO of Medicines Australia, said that against this backdrop, the Australian medicine industry has worked around the clock to ensure Australian patients could continue to access their medicines.

“The highly skilled, talented people, who work for the industry, have worked tirelessly so we can protect ourselves against this virus and still receive other critical medicines, but we are not out of the woods yet,” she said.

“As the spread of the Delta variant continues to put pressure on our healthcare system, it is critical that we work together to secure the supply of vital prescription medicines, including those needed for patients in ICU,” she said.

Marnie Peterson, CEO of GBMA, said the risk of medicines shortages is one of the most important challenges facing both the Government and the healthcare industry during this global health and economic crisis.

“At the forefront of all of our collective decision-making, is the safety and protection of all Australians,” she said. “It is on their behalf, that we collaborate closely with all governments to develop policies and implement protocols to secure supply and manage medicine demand by community pharmacies, prescribers and hospitals.”

The ACCC conditional interim authorisation for Medicines Australia and GBMA will continue until the ACCC makes its final determination (currently scheduled for February 2022), or the ACCC decides to revoke the interim authorisation. Medicines Australia has requested that the ACCC grant it authorisation for a period of 12 months in its final determination. The ACCC order and update can be found here.

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For media enquiries and interview opportunities, please contact:

Medicines Australia: Chrystianna Moran – 0424 995 118 / chrystianna.moran@medicinesaustralia.com.au

GBMA: Jannette Cotterell – 0419 204 059 / jcotterell@executivecounsel.com.au

Medicines Australia and AusBiotech say COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver will not speed up global vaccination

Medicines Australia and AusBiotech say COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver will not speed up global vaccination

14 September 2021: Medicines Australia and AusBiotech, the peak bodies representing the Australian innovative pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors, urge the Australian Government not to support a proposed patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines and therapies, as it will not help global vaccination.

The proposed patent waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO), also known as the TRIPS waiver (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights waiver), is a form of forced technology transfer or compulsory acquisition of intellectual property that would undermine the global vaccination effort rather than strengthen it.

The comments made by Trade Minister Dan Tehan last week were part of a continuing discussion held on that day and do not appear to indicate a change in the Government’s position. Medicines Australia and AusBiotech acknowledge the Australian Government’s determination to play a constructive role in the resolution of this issue, including their recognition that the multilateral intellectual property system critically supports innovation and that patents are not the barrier to vaccine availability.

As previously reported, vaccine manufacturers worldwide are now producing 1.5 billion doses per month, which has been achieved through significant increases in production, supply chain, and voluntary technology transfer agreements across the world. By January 2022, there will be sufficient vaccines produced for every adult on every continent and attention must now be urgently shifted to distribution. All humans should have equitable and timely access to COVID-19 vaccines and the biopharmaceutical industry continues to call for governments to increase dose sharing and remove delivery bottlenecks.

Elizabeth de Somer, CEO of Medicines Australia, and Lorraine Chiroiu, CEO of AusBiotech, have both consistently stated the importance of upholding strong intellectual property protections as the key to innovative vaccines and treatments against COVID-19 and future pandemics. In a joint statement, they both said:

“Since the start of the pandemic, the global biopharmaceutical industry has worked day and night to find solutions to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Our industry collaborates closely with governments, academia and charities around the world to manufacture and distribute safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines. This tremendous collaboration has been enabled – not undermined – by the international intellectual property system. As a result, 3.3 billion people are inoculated, saving countless lives and enabling economies to re-open.”

“Despite this momentous effort, recent figures show that unfortunately, around only 1% of the population in low-income countries have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. While our industry is committed to sharing COVID-19 vaccines quickly and equitably, the proposed patent waiver is a wishful solution to a complex problem. Waiving patents for COVID-19 vaccines and therapies will not address the real challenges to vaccinating the world: eliminating trade barriers, addressing bottlenecks in supply chains, and a greater willingness to share more doses with developing countries.”

“Worryingly, the proposed TRIPS waiver is a forced transfer and acquisition of knowledge and technology, which will undermine the development of safe, effective and quality vaccines. Vaccine manufacturing is highly complex, requires specialist technical equipment and know-how which takes years to build.”

“For example, the Pfizer/ BioNTech mRNA vaccine contains 280 different ingredients sourced from 86 suppliers in 19 different countries. The success of this vaccine relies on highly specialised expertise, advanced customised technical capabilities and strong relationships along numerous supply chains that have been built over decades.”

“If a compulsory acquisition of patents are put into place, there will be serious, long-term impacts, which will dampen the drive for investment into medical research and innovation, placing us in a worse position to tackle new COVID-19 variants and preparation for future health crises.”

“The only way to solve this is through continuing to build robust partnerships backed by a reliable international intellectual property system. Rather than causing more bottlenecks and delays by supporting the TRIPS waiver, we hope that the Australian Government will engage in a pragmatic and constructive dialogue with industry focused on the real barriers to global vaccination.”

Medicines Australia and AusBiotech strongly support the five steps to urgently advance COVID-19 vaccine equity, as outlined by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA): stepping up dose sharing, optimising production, eliminating trade barriers, supporting country readiness and driving further innovation.

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Media contact: Chrystianna Moran
+61424 995 118 / chrystianna.moran@medicinesaustralia.com.au

Statement on Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

Statement on Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

6 September 2021: Medicines Australia welcomes the TGA provisional approval for the COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax (Moderna) for Australia. The Moderna vaccine is expected to arrive in Australia this month.

The TGA announced provisional approval for the Moderna vaccine in August and on Saturday, also provided provisional approval to include Australians between the ages of 12-17 years old. The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines will both be made available to adolescents and be an important tool for Australia’s social and economic recovery.

“The more people in Australia that get vaccinated, the more chance there is of eradicating the national COVID-19 pandemic,” said Elizabeth de Somer, CEO of Medicines Australia.

“When you get vaccinated you are not just protecting yourself. You are also reducing the risk of passing on COVID-19 to your family, friends and community. I am grateful to have received both of my vaccine shots and to do my bit to fight against COVID-19.”

The Moderna vaccine, similar to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, uses mRNA (messenger RNA) technology, which has experienced decades of research efforts. This technology acts as a messenger by providing genetic instructions to the body about how to protect against the virus. It shows the body’s cells what a virus may look like so the immune system has time to build powerful antibodies.

The COVID-19 vaccines have been developed without compromising safety or efficacy, thanks to the extraordinary collaboration between industry, Government, and scientific community.

In addition to the years of research behind vaccine technology, speed has been achieved due to a large injection of funding from pharmaceutical companies as well as running development and implementation phases side-by-side, instead of one after the other.

Medicines Australia will continue to work closely with all our partners across healthcare to ensure all Australians have access to COVID-19 vaccines. 

For further information, visit the Department of Health website for accurate, evidence-based answers to questions about COVID-19 vaccines.

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Media contact: Chrystianna Moran
+61424 995 118 / chrystianna.moran@medicinesaustralia.com.au

COVID-19 vaccine claims scheme

COVID-19 vaccine claims scheme

29 August 2021: Medicines Australia commends the Australian Government on the COVID-19 Vaccine Claim Scheme for anyone who experiences the very rare, serious side effects from a TGA-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

The announcement of this Scheme is another critical step in Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program and encouraging a high vaccinated population. The Scheme provides a safety net for those who receive the vaccine and for those who administer it, in the very rare case of a serious adverse side effect. 

From 6 September 2021, Australians will be able to submit intentions to claim, backdated to February 2021. The Scheme will cover verified claims valued above $5,000 by a team of independent experts.

Medicines Australia provided recommendations to the Government last year, which formed part of the extensive consultation between peak medical, healthcare, business and insurance sectors.

“Australians have truly shown the values of selflessness and mateship as they have rolled up their sleeves in large numbers and received a vaccination against this deadly virus,” said Medicines Australia CEO Elizabeth de Somer.

“If someone does experience an adverse side effect from a vaccination, these are normally short-term. But in the rare case that the effects are moderate or serious, Australians now have the option to seek compensation.”

“All parties who have been involved in the research, development, manufacturing and deployment of these COVID-19 vaccines have moved mountains to deliver safe, effective and quality vaccines. As well as shielding the employees and medical professionals who administer the vaccine, it is important that appropriate protection should also be extended to the manufacturers, distributors, or other entities who are involved in the development or deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The COVID-19 Vaccine Claim Scheme will play an effective role in enhancing national and global vaccination efforts so we can begin to recover from this pandemic. We look forward to further collaborating with the Australian Government and industry to advance our shared public health goals and ensure no Australian is left behind.

For further information or media interviews with CEO Elizabeth de Somer, please contact:
Chrystianna Moran – 0424 995 118 / chrystianna.moran@medicinesaustralia.com.au.

Medicines Australia updated position on Intellectual Property (in light of TRIPS Waiver)

Medicines Australia updated position on Intellectual Property (in light of TRIPS Waiver)

Thursday 6 May 2021: Medicines Australia continues to express our sympathies to all those affected by the pandemic. The importance of accessible, lifesaving vaccines and treatments could not be more important.

The US Government’s decision to support a patent waiver on COVID-19 vaccines will not increase vaccine production nor increase the rate of vaccination in poorer countries.

The Biden Administration’s decision made yesterday undermines the hard work of the global vaccine efforts. Safe, effective vaccines require robust partnerships that need to be supported by the international intellectual property system.

We echo the statements released by International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufactures & Associations (IFPMA), PhRMA and Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). To achieve a high vaccination rate globally, we must have the right mechanisms in place to scale-up research, development, manufacturing, and supply of such products in our fight against COVID-19.

This will only be achieved by supporting innovative COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, not by weakening the ecosystem of research and development (R&D) partnerships underpinned by the current Intellectual Property (IP) protections that brought them to communities around the world.

Our innovative biopharmaceutical sector has rapidly developed safe and effective vaccines thanks to its scientific expertise, its willingness to take financial risks, and a strong framework for the protection of IP.

Some individuals, organisations, and governments have called for suspending IP protections to improve access, including compulsory licensing via section 31 of the TRIPS waiver. Yet the current IP system has increased access to COVID-19 products – for example, through voluntary licensing and manufacturing arrangements.

Members of Medicines Australia are at the forefront of this global vaccine effort. We acknowledge their unprecedented dedication and determination to address COVID-19. Some of them are also members of our international body the IFPMA which is a founding partner of the ACT Accelerator and heavily engaged in the COVAX pillar, through which vaccines will be made available in 92 low-and middle-income countries. IFPMA and its members are committed to delivering COVID-19 vaccines to national populations on an equal basis, regardless of their ability to pay.

Medicines Australia and our Members will continue to work with the Government and partner with stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem and beyond to ensure Australians continue to have access to much needed medicines and vaccines.

For global statements see IFPMA statement on Intellectual Property here. See Medicines Australia previous statement here.