iBIO would like to thank the leadership from Congressmen Brad Schneider, Bill Foster, and the other members of the New Democrats Coalition for their letter raising serious concerns with U.S. Trade Rep. Ambassador Katherine Tai about the proposed expanded waiver on IP for COVID technology.

The WTO agreed to waive IP protections in the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement for COVID-19 vaccines, a decision supported by the Biden administration. The WTO is now considering expanding the waiver to include COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics.

In the letter, The New Democrat Coalition ,made up of 99 Democrats “committed to pro-economic growth, pro-innovation, and fiscally responsible policies,” stated that while they share the goal of ensuring access to COVID technologies worldwide, “an extension of the TRIPS waiver for COVID-related therapeutics and diagnostics will have unintended adverse consequences, such as hampering American manufacturing and shifting jobs to foreign countries.”

iBIO contacted Congressman Schneider in October, expressing our concerns about the possibility of the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS waiver being expanded to include COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics.

“The support for an intellectual property waiver by the US government would severely undermine the United States leadership in biopharmaceuticals and cede much of our IP to foreign countries, sending jobs in manufacturing overseas. As an organization that represents more than 90,000 life sciences employees, primarily in the pharmaceutical and medtech industries, we care deeply about the life sciences workforce across the state of Illinois. The proposed expansion of the WTO TRIPS waiver would have serious consequences for iBIO’s members, including small and medium-sized biosciences companies.

Illinois is home to one of the largest life sciences clusters and expanding this waiver would affect over 20,000 jobs. The waiver would be inconsistent with President Biden’s recent Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation. A wavier would cost US Biomanufacturing jobs, by allowing U.S. innovative technology to be manufactured overseas and exported without regard to intellectual property protections. It is counterproductive to hand over American innovations to countries looking to undermine our leadership in biomedical discovery if we truly want to see American infrastructure be further built up.”