Vaccine patents

May 17, 2021

What is a Drug Patent

A drug patent is something that a company can file that prevents others from replicating their product. Drug patents typically last for about 20 years. Drug production is costly. It can cost well over $1 billion to discover and produce a drug. A patent is a form of security that all that money won’t be helping out another company that replicates whatever drug the company has made. 

How would one lift patent protections? 

To lift patent protections on anything, the World Health Organization (WHO) must approve it. Every member must agree on lifting patent protections and then figure out how to share the vaccine technology with other companies and countries.

Why is this matter up for debate?

To put it simply, money. The U.S. pharmaceutical companies who made the vaccine can charge however much they want for it. Because of this, the companies will mark up the price twice or three times the production value. Investors, seeing this, will invest because of the enormous profit prospects. However, if patent protections are lifted, then that means no more huge markups. So, less profit for investors and pharmaceutical companies.

Would lifting patents help?

It would get a part of the job done. However, the vaccines need highly specialized equipment, raw materials, and specialized workers. It isn’t as simple as following a recipe. 

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Vaccine patents