Feb 22 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Thom Tillis and his colleagues recently sent a letter to U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to express serious concerns about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) proposed global accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, which would weaken intellectual property (IP) protections for companies that use public funding to develop successful pandemic-related products. 

This decision would disincentivize research and vaccine development for future pandemics, hindering the global ability to respond to another public health emergency. While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a request for public input on the proposed WHO agreement, the senators urged Sullivan to explore additional feedback. 

“We agree that it is critical to prepare for the next pandemic and, in doing so, to think about how we can promote better global access to vaccines and medical treatments. We are concerned, however, that the proposed agreement threatens these laudable goals by undermining intellectual property (IP) laws based on a faulty premise that IP rights impeded the global response to the COVID-19 crisis,” the senators wrote.  

“The draft agreement under consideration, however, contains many provisions that would undercut— if not destroy—the very aspects of our innovation ecosystem that just recently produced such positive results. For example, the proposal mandates that companies that receive public funding will have to essentially give away their IP if they develop a successful treatment, whether through compulsory licensing, non-exclusive licensing, or by foregoing royalties,” the senators continued.

“We commend the initiative to improve the global response to the next pandemic, but waiving a broad scope of IP rights is the wrong way to accomplish that goal. As such, we urge you to seek significantly more public feedback than the recent HHS RFI, through hearings and studies, to inform U.S. input on the WHO pandemic agreement,” the senators concluded.

Read the full letter HERE.