Drugmakers will have a say in relinquishing intellectual property rights to vaccines, says Becerra


Covid-19 vaccine developers will speak to the Biden administration before signing a controversial plan to give up their coveted intellectual property rights, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said.

“We are ready to sit down and negotiate to see if there is a way to fix this problem. Everything is still the same until we have negotiated, ”Becerra said Wednesday at a hearing of the House Energy and Trade Committee.

Becerra’s remarks come amid an increasingly intense debate over whether patents and other intellectual property protections on Covid-19 vaccines should be sacrificed so that developing countries can make their own products and speed up vaccination more quickly.

The Biden administration last week announced its support for an international intellectual property waiver, a proposal presented to the World Trade Organization by South Africa and India. Advocates said the move was a step in the right direction towards wider vaccination. Critics say the move threatens innovation while ignoring barriers to manufacturing and distribution.

Becerra said President Joe Biden had had conversations with the pharmaceutical industry “from the very beginning” about vaccine intellectual property, and such communications were still ongoing.

“No action has been taken without consulting all stakeholders and certainly the industry that helped create these vaccines,” he said.

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