A Threat to America’s Economy
America’s strong intellectual property (IP) system provides crucial incentives for innovation and helps advance the development of new medicines. But world leaders are considering a harmful and unnecessary proposal to weaken IP rights for developers of new COVID-19 treatments and diagnostics, which could hamper U.S. innovation, threaten American jobs, and jeopardize our ability to respond to future pandemics.
This misguided proposal could:
- Undercut medical innovation in the United States. Eliminating IP rights could undermine incentives for individuals and companies to develop groundbreaking treatments for millions of patients around the world.
- Put American jobs at risk. Multinational biopharmaceutical companies locate 90% of their research and development expenditures in the United States and support more than 40,000 U.S. jobs. In the past two years, they have spent over $20 billion on clinical trials in the United States for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. An IP waiver could open the door to moving these manufacturing jobs to other countries.
- Compromise global public health and harm patients — especially patients in low- and middle-income countries. Without IP rights to a COVID-19 treatment developed in the United States, the U.S. government and the original developer would have no oversight over the medicine’s production in a foreign country and could not ensure its safety, quality, or effectiveness. By forfeiting U.S. IP rights, the proposed policy could hurt patients in low- and middle-income countries where these medicines are most likely to be produced without the benefit of oversight by the innovator company that has the knowledge to ensure the product’s safety and effectiveness.
In addition, the proposal is unnecessary. There is no supply shortage for COVID-19 treatments. In fact, production exceeds the demand for treatments for all variants and levels of disease severity in all patient settings. Instead of creating a barrier to accessing medicine, IP enables partners to safely and confidently share technology and information across borders and thus ensure the quality, safety, and efficacy of the medicines these partnerships produce.
Waiving IP rights for COVID-19 treatments could undermine the U.S. manufacturing base, harm American jobs, and erode the innovation ecosystem that protects global health. Congress should tell the White House to reject this proposal and focus on increasing access to COVID-19 therapies by improving medical product distribution and administration around the world.