One response to “New American legislation to protect vaccine manufacturers’ IP rights”

  1. alison

    Thanks for sharing, Mila! Amit wrote a great post a few weeks back about how IP law might impact (and perhaps contribute to) global vaccine inequities, and the possibility of patent waivers as a way to address this – this is certainly an interesting new development in the story, and I’ll be curious to see how it all plays out.

    As you point out, there’s definitely a tension inherent in the patent bargain that’s even more apparent in the context of lifesaving medical treatments like vaccines. Even though patents are purposely short (at least, in comparison to copyright), there are some circumstances where 20 years still seems much too long to wait for an invention to enter the public domain.

    Of course, in an ideal world, research in the healthcare industry would always be motivated by the public good, rather than the prospect of profits. I don’t doubt that this is indeed the case for many (if not most) individual researchers, and that given the opportunity, many inventors would make the same choice as Jonas Salk. However, I worry that’s no longer realistic, given the modern-day costs of the research and development of novel drugs: it’s hard to imagine any investor/big-pharma corporation that would be willing to back this type of research without the prospect of being able to recoup their investment (and, of course, make a profit on top of that).