IP Questions Could Dog The WHO's BioHub Pandemic Project
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.
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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.
Equitable access to pandemic medicines and vaccines will be at the core of the WHO’s future global pandemic treaty. Exactly what this will mean for the pharmaceutical industry remains to be seen, but it is likely that companies wanting access to virus samples and other materials will need to agree to benefit sharing in the form of IP and technology transfer.
Delegates at the European Health Forum Gastein outlined the challenges facing an international effort to improve access to costly new medicines across the World Health Organization’s European region, insisting that the key issues had to be addressed “collectively” and without “finger pointing.”