While the number of patented medicines on the EML has increased in recent editions, the portion of the list currently under patent remains a small portion of all drugs on the EML, currently about 10%. A deeper dive into the data shows that many drugs are only patented in a fraction of lower income countries. Thus, 80% of lower income countries have 50 or fewer active patent filings on that ten percent. Moreover, many of these patented drugs are subject to institutionalized programs to provide access at lower cost. This paper provides an update to previous efforts to understand the nature of the EML, while expanding previous information thanks in part to the existence of new freely accessible online databases showing patent status and participation in programs to provide access.
ICC-WIPO Virtual Seminar: Harnessing Public Research for Innovation in the Time of Covid-19 and Beyond
On 20 July, ICC is co-organizing a seminar on “Harnessing Public Research for Innovation in the Time of Covid-19 and Beyond – The Role of Knowledge Transfer Policies” together with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), AUTM, and the Licensing Executives Society International (LESI). This virtual session will take place from 12:30-15:25 CET (Geneva time) and will be held in English with simultaneous interpretation provided in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.
Please register here with the following secure code: 33WSMBV521.
Panelists Discuss Why Patent Waiver Would Not Accelerate Global Vaccine Distribution
At a panel held in June by The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), two vaccine scientists, Professor Robin Shattock (Imperial College, London) and Dr. Anne Moore (University College Cork) discussed their thoughts on why a patent waiver related to COVID-19 vaccines would not speed up vaccine distribution in lower income countries.
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HS codes relevant to inputs for COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics
Bio-pharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing inputs include: chemical or biological reagents; equipment used in laboratories; microscope parts; equipment for manufacturing such as single-use bioreactors; and the full range of raw materials used for R&D and production of vaccines and other bio-pharmaceuticals, such as guanidine thiocyanate. Researchers use these tools to make scientific breakthroughs, and bio-pharmaceutical companies rely on them to discover, develop, validate, and manufacture lifesaving vaccines, drugs, and therapies – including those necessary to address COVID-19 and future global health crises.
Some countries impose tariffs on bio-pharmaceutical inputs, in some cases as high as 25%. This raises costs and makes it more difficult for fledgling producers to compete. Eliminating tariffs on bio-pharmaceutical inputs could help to resolve some of the current global distribution challenges for COVID-related products, thereby helping to make the global COVID-19 response more equitable, affordable, and sustainable.
Unilateral elimination of COVID-19 related tariffs would provide substantial benefits in terms of the short-term dissemination of pharmaceutical inputs and vaccines. Ultimately, however, tariff elimination should be made permanent and should cover a broader range of products. This would create legal certainty and predictability for actors along global value chains.
An appropriate vehicle for tariff elimination on inputs could be the WTO plurilateral agreement known as Zero for Zero, for which product coverage should be expanded to include the full range of COVID-19 bio-pharmaceutical inputs. In this respect, Innovation Council has developed a list of HS codes showing tariffs related to the inputs used for developing and producing COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. The list was developed in partnership with private sector actors in these value chains. A list of COVID-19 MFN product examples is available here.
Spotlight on South Africa: 10 Questions for Biovac’s Patrick Tippoo
Innovation Council sat down with Patrick Tippoo, the Head of Science and Innovation at The Biovac Institute in South Africa to learn more about its activities and innovations. Established in 2003 in Cape Town, Biovac was created to distribute, manufacture, and develop vaccines and biologics for Southern Africa. Patrick, who has been with Biovac since its establishment, has more than 30 years in the industry.
Are Chinese politics a threat to the patent system?
In this 2-minute video, Gaétan de Rassenfosse, Chair of Innovation and IP Policy at EPFL, explains that foreign companies operating in China are less likely to have their patent applications granted than their Chinese counterparts. This discrimination occurs in technologies of strategic importance to the Chinese government, particularly in the telecommunication and biotech industries.
Techinvention’s scFv libraries help fight COVID-19
Innovation Council member Techinvention, has successfully generated two scFv libraries using phage display technologies from the convalescent plasma of COVID-19 recovered patients. The library now with us includes one billion different clones of antibody genes (VHs-Vκs and VHs-Vλs) with high probability to get high affinity fully human antibodies. This library will be used for the development of monoclonal antibody against multiple proteins of SARS-CoV-2 to address the looming threat posed by emerging mutant strains. It can also be used for diagnostic purposes, bioassays kit development, affinity maturation, studying protein-protein interactions and developing antibodies against other viral diseases with grave consequences and unmet medical needs.
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South Africa: Covid Vaccine Manufacturing
To battle COVID-19, the world will need vaccines. Expanding global manufacturing capacity is part of ensuring there are enough to go around. Biovac, based in South Africa, is committed to the long fight against the pandemic. The CEO, Dr Morena Makhoana, estimates that Biovac will be able to produce as many as 30 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. Biovac is part-owned by the South African Government. The company is still engaged in talks with global pharmaceutical companies regarding manufacturing and producing Covid-19 vaccines at its facilities in South Africa. The emergence of the second, more lethal variant has added some complexity – and urgency.
U.S. patent chief warns against ‘drastic’ actions in light of COVID
A top U.S. official on Tuesday dismissed calls for countries to waive intellectual property protections on vaccines and other products to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“Before any drastic measures are taken with respect to IP rights, evidence must be brought to bear that such measures are actually needed,” Andrei Iancu, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said during a discussion hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “This has not happened.”
“To the contrary, the evidence to date shows that there is an unprecedented level of cooperation in industry, and that IP has facilitated this worldwide cooperation,” Iancu added.