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Pharmaceutical Monopolies, Hostility to Global Cooperation, Limited Production Threaten Coronavirus Response

250-Plus Groups Demand Governments, Manufacturers Adopt Critical Principles to Ensure Timely Access to Tests, Treatments and Vaccines

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Open science, ramped-up manufacturing, fair pricing and sharing of technology, among other actions, are urgently needed to reduce loss of life during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 254 groups including Public Citizen said today. The groups released a list of principles calling for action from governments, international agencies, manufacturers, donors and development partners.

As countries continue to search for medical breakthroughs to address the pandemic, there is a grave danger that research efforts will be stymied and access for many patients to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines will be delayed by limited manufacturing capacity, commercial secrecy and monopolies on key medical technologies, as well as by hostility to global cooperation.

“We are concerned that powerful countries may favor their drug corporations and hoard medical tools at the expense of global cooperation,” the groups said in the letter. “We are concerned that privileged individuals who receive tests, treatments and vaccines first may not be those who need them most.”

To remedy these dangers, the groups call on corporations, governments and agencies to:

  • Ensure access for all to medical tools urgently needed to diagnose, treat, mitigate and prevent COVID-19, with necessary priority given to health care workers and vulnerable populations.
  • Commit patents, trade secrets, know-how, cell lines, copyright, software, data and all other relevant intellectual property to the public domain.
  • Coordinate with the World Health Organization to organize the public sharing of research and development outcomes as well as data and intellectual property to accelerate innovation, scale up production and mitigate shortages.

The groups supporting the principles include MSF/Doctors Without Borders, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Oxfam, Indivisible, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and T1 International, Third World Network, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Medecins du Monde, International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, Health Action International, Doctors for America, Center for Popular Democracy, Lawyers Collective India and nearly 250 other organizations.

Read the principles here.