Fact & Comment
Washington is about to smash up one of America’s most innovative industries—and for no good reason.
At a time when Washington routinely complains about China stealing our intellectual property, the Biden administration has announced that it supports what would be one of the most destructive thefts of intellectual property in U.S. history.
President Biden has declared that the U.S. is endorsing a World Trade Organization scheme to force pharmaceutical companies to turn over American Covid-19 vaccine technology to any country or company that wants it. This, after these drug companies have spent billions of dollars and devoted immense brainpower and time to develop these vaccines in record time, thereby saving millions of lives.
The implications of the Biden move are ghastly. Washington is about to smash up one of our most innovative industries—and for no good reason.
To start with, such a theft won’t increase the output or availability of Covid-19 vaccines. The production process is immensely complex and cannot be rushed. The Washington Post—hardly a bastion of free-market principles—declared, “The most salient fact is that patents on vaccines are not the central bottleneck, and even if turned over to other nations, would not quickly result in more shots.”
Drug companies are ramping up production as quickly as possible while ensuring the vaccines’ safety. Global supplies will be tight for the next few months, but there will be more than 12 billion doses by the end of 2022.
Here’s the frightening reality if the Biden move isn’t reversed: Criminals and companies with lower standards will be injecting counterfeit or substandard vaccines into the marketplace.
It’s the long-term consequences that are so destructive, though. It takes $2.6 billion and a decade of research and testing to successfully bring a new drug to market. If new medical technologies can be seized by headline-hunting politicians, companies and investors aren’t going to commit the resources and take on the enormous risk of developing new medicines and medical devices. Why undergo such a process if hard-won success will be handed over to China and others on a silver platter?
The font of pharmaceutical innovation will be halted or severely restricted. With promising research and development underway in the fights against cancer, dementia and other dread diseases, this would be a tragedy of the first order.
Britain, Germany and France are appalled by what we are about to do and stoutly oppose the Biden adminstration’s decision.
Moreover, biotechnology is a frontier in which the United States has a formidable lead. Why gratuitously destroy it?
The White House must reverse course— immediately.