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.