Move to expand intellectual property waiver presents concern


AusBiotech is backing global advocacy efforts as the World Trade Organization (WTO) considers expanding its Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement to therapeutics and vaccines. 

AusBiotech’s position is that while strongly supportive of equitable access to medicines globally, these waivers will not enable this - as proven by the vaccines waiver that has passed.

Dr Damian Slizys, Director of Intellectual Property at Telix Pharmaceuticals authored ‘The role of patents in drug development’ for the latest edition of Australasian Biotechnology (page 54) journal in collaboration with AusBiotech and its IP Advisory Group. Dr Slizys responded to the changes to the international TRIPS Agreement waiver for IP rights, which Telix suggests has highlighted a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of IP.  

Expanding the IP waiver also presents risks to Australian home-made innovation and jobs – including the hundreds of SMEs developing health technologies – and their ability to compete globally. 

This agreement has the potential to affect and harm small biotech companies the most as SMEs account for 307 of 357 COVID-19 therapeutics in development (86%), and most of these therapeutics potentially have other indications, which Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) described in a letter to US President Joe Biden that it “may be their only path to financial viability and sustained investment to fund future R&D initiatives.”

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) which is responsible for representing research-based pharmaceutical companies and associations across the globe has launched a digital social media campaign on the value of IP. The hashtag - #IPMakesItHappen – coincided with the WIPO Standing Committee on Patents (26-30 September 2022) and the WTO Forum (27-30 September 2022). IFPMA rallied its online community to explain and showcase how IP makes breakthroughs happen and this can also demonstrate to innovation-supportive countries that the industry is working hard to fly the flag. 

For more information, visit BIO’s blog post for its position on the latest development in the TRIPS Waiver Agreement, here.