TRIPS Waiver 2.0 at the WTO: Proponents back at the table to push for therapeutics and diagnostics

The embers from the WTO’s 12th ministerial conference are still warm.

While the supporters of the original TRIPS waiver are still coming to terms with the remains of the 20 month saga that yielded a ministerial decision clarifying the rules of compulsory licensing for the production of vaccines, they are back at the WTO to stomach another fight. This time, to discuss the way forward to boost the production of therapeutics and diagnostics by seeking to extend the applicability of the June decision to these medical products.

This puts the co-sponsors, again, directly in opposition to industry interests where companies such as Pfizer alone are projected to make billions off a single drug to treat COVID-19.  

At this week’s TRIPS Council meeting, the first since the ministerial that ended on June 17th, WTO members gathered to discuss, among other policy matters, paragraph 8 of the decision that concerns therapeutics and diagnostics.

Recall that the text said:

“8. No later than six months from the date of this Decision, Members will decide on its extension to cover the production and supply of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics.”

In an “unofficial room” document that is classified as “restricted” (RD/IP/49), South Africa, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt and Tanzania, on behalf of the co-sponsors of the original TRIPS waiver proposal (IP/C/W/669/Rev.1), have suggested the rationale and the plan to conduct the discussions on therapeutics and diagnostics.

(According to the WTO, “documents issued in the RD series are not official WTO documents. They usually appear in their language of submission and will not be translated systematically into the working languages of the WTO. They are intended for use in WTO meeting rooms and are attributed an unofficial symbol for archiving purposes only”.)

Photo by Harrison  Candlin: Pexels

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