OpEd: Waiving IP Protections Hurts American Businesses

OpEd: Waiving IP Protections Hurts American Businesses


OpEd: Waiving IP Protections Hurts American Businesses (Tinley Park, IL) — The world is a much healthier place thanks to the innovation of American companies in developing cutting edge medications used throughout the globe.

The United States leads the world in the innovation and development of new, life-saving pharmaceuticals. The investment into this research comes with a tremendous price tag, which can only be paid with the ability to hold onto the patents allowing these companies to manufacture and distribute the new medications they create.

Unfortunately, a proposal to waive the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) would undermine these intellectual property rights. The World Trade Organization was originally scheduled to make a decision on the TRIPS waiver by Dec. 17th, but thankfully that decision is likely going to be delayed.

There is no question extending the waiver to COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics, would undermine the U.S. manufacturing base, do tremendous harm to American workers, and greatly diminish the incentives for American companies to develop new treatments and new innovations.

The economic footprint of the US innovation in pharmaceuticals is vast. Research and development in the United States directly and indirectly accounts for 45 million jobs not to mention the life-saving drugs, including the COVID-19 vaccine, this research has produced.

The long-standing public/private collaboration in the US has paved the way for the rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The private sector accounts for 71 percent of all U.S. Research and Development spending and the private sector spending are completely reliant on U.S. IP laws. U.S. IP rights are a critical part of the process of developing new medicines because these laws protect American investments.


World-wide, there continues to be efforts to undermine the protections the United States affords innovators. The end result of their efforts is less money for future research and development and less safe products for the patients. Many of these drugs are manufactured with complex formulas with precise measurements and exact ingredients.

Any deviation from the measurements and type of ingredients used can have devastating, long-term consequences. The grim reality is that even if we gave out the formula to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines, many countries simply do not have the right infrastructure needed to manufacture the drugs.

There also is not the need there once was for COVID-19 vaccines. According to recent news reports, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has publicly asked for vaccine shipments to stop because of concerns they might expire before they can be used. If the very countries the IP waiver is supposed to help do not need the help why take the risks that come with the patent waivers?

The proposal to expand IP waivers is a solution in search of a problem. There simply is no need to set the terrible precedent of waiving US intellectual property rights to allow countries not equipped to do manufacture these drugs in the first place and put people in harm’s way when there is no compelling healthcare need to do so.

I urge the Biden administration to put healthcare first by standing with Illinois manufacturers and workers to oppose expansion of the TRIPS waiver. Please do not waver in continuing to oppose the outrageous and unnecessary WTO TRIPS waivers.

OpEd: Waiving IP Protections Hurts American Businesses

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