Year Of IP: From The TRIPS Waiver Proposal To The Moderna-NIH Patent Tussle
Intellectual property became front page news in 2021 as the pandemic ignited a debate on the role of patents in accessing COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. 2022 will see a decision on the TRIPS waiver, a new USPTO director, and action on a pending march-in petition.
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The World Health Organization’s BioHub project is gathering momentum, with the spotlight on the equitable and timely sharing of viruses and other biological materials to develop medical products for use in future health emergencies such as a pandemic. But while its objectives are lauded by many, concerns have been raised about the intellectual property implications of the project.
Big events from the year included the Biden Administration throwing its support behind the TRIPS waiver proposal, companies inking a slew of licensing deals, and the FDA asking the USPTO how it was addressing patent thickets.
Merck and Lilly tackle some early challenges before striking voluntary licensing deals for COVID-19 therapies with Indian firms. Data around the use of these drugs in low- and middle-income countries could also potentially make them ‘more acceptable’ elsewhere, experts say.