Preserving biotech’s IP rights


AusBiotech has joined BIO, the UK BioIndustry Association, and more than 290 other global biotech company leaders as they unite in their concern of the ongoing risk to international IP protection that is before the World Trade Organization (WTO).

As currently experienced across Australia, accessing COVID-19 vaccines and essential treatments is being hampered by manufacturing abilities and supply chains, rather than due to access to the IP that backs them.

Despite voluntary global agreements and more collaboration and partnerships in biotech than ever before, a misguided understanding of equitable access remains and the proposal to waive IP protection that is before the WTO will not overcome the real barriers.

Bottlenecks and shortages in global supply chains for vaccine production need to be urgently addressed. Strained healthcare systems in low-and middle-income countries, particularly, need significant support to ensure vaccines get to people.

The WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver would see, under certain circumstances, member countries set aside patent rights for a medicine or vaccine in response to a public health emergency.

AusBiotech members represent a wide range of biotech firms that rely on IP to fund their research, turning ideas into products, and a platform to partner globally. Allowing international governments to waive IP rights would undermine the global collaboration that has led to more than 11 billion doses of COVID vaccines in 2021, and significantly more in the first part of 2022, being developed by existing global vaccine manufacturers.

AusBiotech was invited to sign the letter through its International Council of Biotechnology Associations (ICBA) membership. ICBA is a coalition of not-for-profit, national biotechnology trade associations formed to promote public understanding of, and to advocate for, public policies that support the growth of the innovative biotechnology industries. ICBA represents the global voice of the industry in international fora, with the goal of promoting continued innovation in the human health, agriculture, and industrial and environmental sectors.

Read the open declaration here.