Updated: Apr 15, 2020
WASHINGTON (April 13, 2020) According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), compulsory licensing is when a government allows someone else to produce a patented product or process without the consent of the patent owner or plans to use the patent-protected invention itself.
Several member states of the WTO agreed not to use compulsory licensing under pressure from drug company lobbyists. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) joins the signers of this letter to demand that governments reverse this policy in order to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In the rush to cash in on the current COVID-19 crisis, drug companies are clamoring for their governments to patent yet-to-be approved COVID-19 vaccines and medications, creating monopoly powers for drug companies to charge whatever price they want. “In every case, taxpayers have paid for the basic scientific research for these medicines at public universities and the National Institutes of Health. Governments shouldn’t allow drug companies to charge taxpayers for the use of publicly financed research and development,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “We’re not going to beat this virus if only people with money can get potential vaccines and treatments.”
“The U.S. government is the largest buyer of patented medications and should start negotiating now for lower drug prices. If parties can’t agree on a reasonable price with a reasonable profit for the manufacturer, then governments have an obligation to protect public health by using the compulsory licensing process,” said Tom Myers, AHF Chief of Public Affairs and General Counsel.
“The shortages we face now with personal protective equipment for healthcare providers and ventilators to treat the sick will pale compared to the shortages we will face for COVID-19 medicines and vaccines if we allow drug companies to have their way,” added Weinstein.