Facilitating Access to Cross-Border Supplies of Patented Pharmaceuticals: The Case of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Journal of International Economic Law (Oxford)(forthcoming Vol. 23, Issue 3, Sept. 2020)
July 20, 2020
SSRN download here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3656725
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into stark relief the gaps in global preparedness to address widespread outbreaks of deadly viral infections. This article proposes legal mechanisms for addressing critical issues facing the international community in terms of providing equitable access to vaccines, treatments, diagnostics and medical equipment. On the supply side, the authors propose the establishment of mandatory patent pools (‘Licensing Facilities’) on a global or regional, or even national basis, depending upon the degree of cooperation that may be achieved. The authors also discuss the importance of creating shared production facilities. On the demand side, the authors propose the establishment of Regional Pharmaceutical Supply Centers for the collective procurement of products, and the need to coordinate the issuance of necessary compulsory licenses for production and/or importation, depending on relevant circumstances. The authors envisage that centralized coordination by Regional Pharmaceutical Supply Centers should assist in overcoming difficulties individual countries may encounter in addressing administrative and technical issues in procuring supplies, as well as creating improved bargaining leverage with potential suppliers. The authors finally address the problem created by the decision of various High-Income Countries (HICs) to ‘opt out’ as eligible importing countries under the WTO TRIPS Agreement Article 31bis amendment that addresses the predominant export of pharmaceutical products under compulsory licenses.