One of the challenges facing the international community is to seek mechanisms that guarantee that, after the experience that humanity has lived in relation to COVID-19, discrimination is not allowed in the access, production and commercialization of vaccines or any other scientific advance that is within reach to overcome eventual global health crises. It is essential that access mechanisms be made more flexible, especially for those countries that do not have the capacity to produce them or do not have access to the respective patents.
For this, it must be guaranteed that, based on one of the precepts established during the negotiation of trade agreements within the framework of the WTO and particularly the one that refers to Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, TRIPS ( TRIPS), is effectively about striking a balance between the long-term social objective of providing incentives for future inventions and creations and the short-term objective of allowing the use of inventions and patents. Regarding the latter, the agreement requires countries to grant patents for all inventions, whether of products or procedures, in all fields of technology without discrimination, subject of course to the normal criteria of innovation, invention and industrial application. .
Undoubtedly, respect for creativity and intellectual property is a source for the development of economic activity and as such, the protection of knowledge, research and their protocols affects the permanent search for the development of technologies and new drugs, which in turn, it translates into the generation of employment and income for countries and companies that promote scientific development. As we know, the patent is an exclusive right that is granted on an invention and this in turn means that it cannot be produced, used or distributed for commercial purposes, nor can it be sold, without the consent of the patent owner.
Up there is fine. The obvious question is whether this also applies to patents and health development.
It seems that there is no consensus on this issue. In this sense, a document prepared by the South Center indicates that, for example, the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and health has contributed to advance in the use of flexibilities to promote public health and should be considered as an important agreement of the membership; However, although it has facilitated access to medicines and vaccines for the countries, this is still insufficient. He feels that the system has not lived up to its promise. The policy brief recommends that WTO members assess and identify challenges to making full use of TRIPS flexibilities for
promote public health, and advances that it will be necessary to design supplementary tools to never again allow such inequality in access to vaccines and treatments that save lives, as in the current COVID-19 pandemic ”.
The controversy continues, especially the pharmaceutical companies oppose it on the grounds that the incentive for research and development is lost. On the other hand, the WHO itself considers that lifting patents in the face of a crisis of nature such as the one that is in full swing will give more opportunity to those most in need. The release of patents with well-agreed protocols should not be a threat to the industry, which on the contrary could benefit from the massification of these or any other medicine that helps mitigate human suffering. There are spaces to seek consensus on a particularly complex issue.