IFPMA remarks on intellectual property management and the global response to COVID-19

Published on: 06 April 2020

6 April 2020, Geneva – In the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), biopharmaceuticals companies are focusing significant amounts of their resources on the immediate task ahead, which requires pushing the boundaries of science, developing workable solutions and ensuring there is capacity to scale up manufacture once solutions are found, while at the same time ensuring continuity of global supply for critical products. This approach is bearing fruit, with a large number of competitive leads for treatments and vaccines already identified for testing in just a matter of a couple of months[1].

Since the emergence of virus, biopharmaceutical companies have stepped up their efforts and are engaged in multiple research projects to develop vaccines and treatments in order to contain it. The private R&D business model, underpinned by sound intellectual property protection, has contributed with most of the treatments that are now being tested for additional uses, and also enabled companies to make bold investments in R&D for new products. Moreover, there is a strong commitment across the biopharmaceutical industry to work with governments, insurers and other stakeholders to make these medicines and vaccines accessible and affordable to those who need them.

“We recognize that a flexible approach is needed to accommodate and support different R&D and access efforts, and that no easy ‘one size fits all’ solution exists” said Thomas Cueni, Director General, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA). He adds: “In this spirit, we are open to explore innovative approaches and partnerships to facilitate further R&D to develop new medicines and vaccines for patients suffering from COVID-19 and to expand access.”

Cueni concludes: “While we are not aware of any instance to date where intellectual property management has been an impediment in the global response to this pandemic, proposals for voluntary pooling of intellectual property assets, including the decision of the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to temporarily expand its mandate to include health technologies related to COVID-19, adds to the arsenal of options available to companies when establishing access to any potential COVID-19 product.’’

[1]Draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines

“Solidarity” clinical trial for COVID-19 treatments