WTO Decision on Waiving Intellectual Property Rights is the Wrong Solution to Address Barriers to Vaccine Equity

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Press Release

Ottawa, June 17, 2022 – Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC), the association representing Canada’s research-based pharmaceutical sector, is disappointed by the intellectual property (IP) waiver to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) reached at the 12th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference (MC12).

“We must come together to find real solutions to address barriers to vaccine equity. The IP waiver is not only the wrong solution, but it will undermine our sector’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to future pandemics,” said Pamela Fralick, President of Innovative Medicines Canada.

IP rights have enabled, not hindered, the fastest vaccine development and authorization process in history, resulting in the delivery of 13.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses by the first quarter of 2022. Reasonable and reliable IP protections give innovators the confidence to invest time and significant resources into research and development that spans over many years, the ability to collaborate with reliable and proven partners who are properly equipped to produce required vaccine volumes, all while meeting the highest quality and safety standards.

To this day, there is no evidence that IP has been a barrier to COVID-19 vaccine production or access. In fact, 381 voluntary industry partnerships for COVID-19 vaccines and 150 for COVID-19 therapeutics have been undertaken to date, where 88 per cent and 79 per cent, respectively, involve technology transfer, according to the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA).

Supply is no longer an obstacle to battling COVID-19 around the world. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed this during a statement he made following the Global COVID-19 Summit last month. With global manufacturing capacity now nearing one billion doses per month, many countries and organizations have not only asked for orders to be delayed but are cancelling them altogether.

There have been many lessons learned during the pandemic, and we have a shared responsibility to ensure equitable access to medicines and treatments ahead of any future global health crises. But the untimely and unneeded IP waiver agreed to at MC12 sends the wrong signal to innovators and ultimately does nothing to address the vaccine hesitancy, trade, distribution, and administrative challenges that are the true barriers to increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates throughout the world.

About Innovative Medicines Canada

Innovative Medicines Canada is the national association representing the voice of Canada’s innovative pharmaceutical industry. The association advocates for policies that enable the discovery, development, and delivery of innovative medicines and vaccines to improve the lives of all Canadians and supports the members’ commitment to being a valued partner in the Canadian healthcare system. The association represents 49 companies who invest nearly $1.4 billion in R&D annually, fueling Canada’s knowledge-based economy, while contributing $8 billion to Canada’s economy. Guided by the Code of Ethical Practices, all members work with governments, private payers, healthcare professionals, and stakeholders in a highly ethical manner.

For further information:

Marise Varanda
Director, Media Relations & Content
Telephone: 613-462-5367
E-mail: [email protected]

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