WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced legislation to stop the Biden administration from compromising the intellectual property rights of vaccine manufacturers through Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waivers. Senator Blackburn was joined by Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tommy Tuberville (R- Ala.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).
“President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed proved the life-saving capabilities of the private sector, but for some reason the Democrats are on a mission to stop this innovation in its tracks,” said Senator Blackburn. “I am leading the charge to stop Joe Biden’s plan to waive the intellectual property rights of vaccine manufacturers. Without the power of free market innovation, we will lose any chance we have at successfully managing another global public health crisis.”
“The Biden Administration’s disastrous decision to support a TRIPS waiver will destroy American jobs and companies by giving away valuable intellectual property. I will continue to push the Administration to reverse course on this decision that will do nothing to end the pandemic or increase vaccination rates, and I’ll work with my colleagues to get this bill passed into law,” said Senator Tillis.
“The power of American ingenuity produced three life-saving COVID vaccines in record time – that is something to be proud of,” said Senator Tuberville. “Private industry should have a say if their coveted vaccine formulas are exported to other countries and their cutting-edge technology is copied. Additionally, allowing for a TRIPS waiver would increase the likelihood that this sought-after technology would make it into the hands of bad actors like China and Russia, who could use it to advance their malign agendas. Global industry has the means to produce billions of vaccine doses and they should do so on their own terms, but waiving global intellectual property protections simply undermines American innovation.”
“Ingenuity is a key aspect of the American dream. The Biden Administration’s efforts to undermine intellectual property protections when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines discourages the very medical breakthroughs of President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed and threatens future discoveries, as well as our ability to prepare for the next pandemic. The No Free TRIPS Act adds a necessary check on the Biden Administration and prevents them from entering into agreements which waive global intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics,” said Senator Cramer.
“Beginning with the Trump Administration’s successful Operation Warp Speed, the United States has led the world in COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic innovation and exports since the onset of the pandemic,” said Senator Hagerty. “We must not allow any feckless agreements by the Biden Administration that would freely and unconditionally hand other nations American taxpayer-subsidized research and development at no cost, thereby undermining American innovation and potentially allowing our adversaries to capitalize on our COVID-19-related intellectual property. I’m pleased to co-sponsor this legislation that will hold the Administration accountable for any decisions that jeopardize our nation’s property and innovation.”
“The United States is an innovation power house. We produce some of the most advanced medical technology in the world, and it is shocking to me that President Biden would suggest that we give away any of our advantages when it comes to the developments we have made in those technologies. We need to focus on protecting intellectual property and incentivizing the development of other life-saving treatments to provide to other nations. Thank you to Senator Blackburn for proposing this important legislation,” said Senator Lummis.
“American companies worked at lightning speed to develop safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines,” Senator Rubio said. “A TRIPS waiver would strip incentives for American drug manufacturers to step up when we need them to. This bill would protect the intellectual property of American companies and ensure that neither China nor Russia can claim American vaccines as their own."
“With the support of decades of research and development, voluntary technology transfers, and hundreds of partnerships, biopharmaceutical manufacturers are producing the COVID-19 vaccines we need to vaccinate the world,” said Stephen J. Ubl, president and CEO of PhRMA. “Efforts to undermine intellectual property protections are unnecessary and harmful to our collective work to end the pandemic and respond to future public health threats. The No Free TRIPS Act would help ensure the U.S. does not surrender the American intellectual property that’s been critical to fighting COVID-19.”
“Intellectual property waiver proposals distract from the real issues preventing more shots in arms, such as logistical hurdles, supply chain bottlenecks, and vaccine hesitancy. Business is delivering on the promise to manufacture safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the whole world. Vaccine production is estimated to reach over 20 billion doses this year, enough for everyone. As of March 2022, over 65% of the global population has received at least one dose, and this number is growing every day. The dismantling of IP rights threatens the licensing arrangements that are enabling rapid global production and technology transfer. The Chamber applauds these Members of Congress for introducing this important legislation and strongly supports the No Free TRIPS Act and the Protecting American Innovation Act,” said Neil L. Bradley, Executive Vice President, Chief Policy Officer, and Head of Strategic Advocacy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
- Last month, reports surfaced that the United States, European Union, India and South Africa reached a deal on a Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver for COVID-19 vaccines.
- The compromise would allow developing countries with low vaccine exports to use patented vaccine formulas without the owner's approval.
- The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) claims that a waiver would promote greater global production and access to vaccines, but industry is expected to produce 20 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2022.
- South Africa and India want access to the underlying technology so they can capitalize on U.S. private investment. In addition, it is likely this technology would then be transferred to adversaries like Russia and China.