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Coronavirus

Vaccine patents

(16 Posts)
Daisymae Tue 20-Apr-21 09:05:26

It seems that as pharmaceutical companies have patents on the vaccine, this is blocking poorer countries from developing a their own cheaper versions. The UK government is supporting this stance. As no one is safe until we're all safe you have to ask why. The pandemic isn't over and holding onto patents could be disastrous. I imagine that they are making too much money. How about 100 per cent tax on all profits or board salaries or maybe dividends would do it?

Alegrias1 Tue 20-Apr-21 09:37:03

If all - literally all - a company's profits were going to be taken off it in tax, and nobody on the boards were able to earn any salary or dividends, why would they bother being in business in the first place?

Whitewavemark2 Tue 20-Apr-21 09:43:31

Sometimes the big Parma’s have produced a medicine that means that R&D and production has meant a loss, but they do occasionally do so for altruistic reasons and the kudos.

Alegrias1 Tue 20-Apr-21 09:51:09

I understand that Astra Zeneca aren't going to make a profit from their vaccine until the pandemic is declared over, is that right?

Does big Pharma ever act out of altruism? Loss leaders and kudos, surely?

I don't know any of the answers, I'm really asking smile

M0nica Tue 20-Apr-21 09:51:30

Sorry? I imagine that they are making too much money.

I do think if you want to make claims like this you could at least check on your facts first. What is the evidence that the pharmaceutical companies are making too much money on the COVID vaccine?

Drugs, any kind of drugs cost £million to develop and they spend many millions developing other drugs that fail at some stage in the development process and the development of these drugs is part of the ongoing research that produces effective drugs.

In this case, apart from the COVAX scheme, run by WHO which has had companies and countries pledge money and vaccines to given free to many poorer countries. Astra-Zeneca are also making vaccines available to countries listed as being poor at cost price www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-55795297

Of course the companies have patents on their vaccines. How ese are they to recoup the many £million they have spent on their development. No comapny can afford to make anything from bread to drugs if they make a loss on production. Patents are there to ensure we have companies who can recoup the cost of developing new drugs. Without this we would go naked and unprotected into the next pandemic.

Whitewavemark2 Tue 20-Apr-21 12:01:32

Alegrias1

I understand that Astra Zeneca aren't going to make a profit from their vaccine until the pandemic is declared over, is that right?

Does big Pharma ever act out of altruism? Loss leaders and kudos, surely?

I don't know any of the answers, I'm really asking smile

I will run that past my daughter🙂. She has mentioned altruism in the past. I’ll ask her what and who.

Pharmaceuticals are companies just like every other company, but their overheads must be enormous given the R&D the infrastructure and the high cost of employees, who are highly skilled and usually with a PhD at that level. But then you have the production staff, the quality control is intensive, with scientist from countries to which they are exporting auditing the quality control etc. on a regular basis.

It would seem that they have costs not incurred by the average company.

maddyone Tue 20-Apr-21 12:09:30

I understand from what I’ve seen/read/ heard that the AstraZeneca vaccine is being sold at cost, to both developed countries and third world countries so I think Alegrias
is correct. The UK government (which means us the tax payers) has put a massive amount of money into the development of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which in my opinion was the right thing to do. I hope third world and poorer countries are able to access more of the vaccines quickly.

NotSpaghetti Tue 20-Apr-21 12:12:00

I heard a virologist on the radio a few months ago explaining that when patents are released there is no control over the manufacturing process elsewhere. The point is that they could (and he said would) end up being poorly made with no proof of efficacy.

The important thing was to offer at no or low cost instead - in order to protect the integrity of the product.

Just imagine if we didn't know who had had a "real" vaccine and who had been given a shoddy copy?

I think this call to free the patents could leave the world in a terrible mess.

Once a simple and cheap manufacturing method is sorted it probably is ok to release the patents - but at the moment, when even the best labs have unsucessful batches, I'd say no.

Callistemon Tue 20-Apr-21 12:33:28

maddyone

I understand from what I’ve seen/read/ heard that the AstraZeneca vaccine is being sold at cost, to both developed countries and third world countries so I think Alegrias
is correct. The UK government (which means us the tax payers) has put a massive amount of money into the development of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which in my opinion was the right thing to do. I hope third world and poorer countries are able to access more of the vaccines quickly.

I believe that Australia has ordered sufficient vaccines to be able to supply poorer nations in the South Pacific as well as their own population.
They just need to get hold of them now.

India has a huge pharmaceutical industry, supplying half of the world demand for pharmaceutical drugs.
www.ibef.org/industry/pharmaceutical-india.aspx#:~:text=India%20is%20the%20largest%20provider,in%20the%20global%20pharmaceuticals%20sector.

Generally, Pharma companies need to recoup their costs and make sufficient money for research into new drugs whilst the licences on new drugs are still in force.

This virus , however, is unprecedented in that there is a world demand for the vaccine but just as important is the fact that its manufacture needs to be strictly controlled at the moment - it needs to work.

Daisymae Tue 20-Apr-21 13:08:18

There's no end to the pandemic until vaccinations are rolled out globally. Stands to reason that once development costs are covered then patents should be released for humanitarian reasons.

Jaxjacky Tue 20-Apr-21 13:10:56

I think the Nature site expressed it well ‘ patents exist to protect inventors by protection their inventions from unfair competition for a limited time. A pandemic is not a competition between companies, but a race between humanity and a virus’

M0nica Tue 20-Apr-21 13:32:34

All the vaccine developers are already licensing out the manufacture of the vaccines. That is why they are produccing millions of doses every day.

The problem is once you remove the patent you have no control over what is being manufactured. There are many reputable manufacturers of drugs now out of patent. The NHS buy a lot of generic drugs, but all the companies they buy from will be checked as will the products themselves.

However, at the bottom of the market are manufacturers producing products that claim to be penicillin. or ACE inhibitors, or Viagra, and they either they contain less of the drug than stated or our counterfeited.

Do we really want poorer countries and individuals buying cheap products that claim to be efficacious when they are not, when we are dealing with a global pandemic and it is so important that people getting a vaccine get the 'real deal'

Callistemon Tue 20-Apr-21 13:59:59

Do we really want poorer countries and individuals buying cheap products that claim to be efficacious when they are not, when we are dealing with a global pandemic and it is so important that people getting a vaccine get the 'real deal'

Definitely not.
It is bad enough with the amount of drugs being sold on the internet: WHO estimates that 50% of the drugs for sale on the internet are fake.

We do not want to be in a position of fake vaccines being peddled resulting in a resurgence of the virus which could be even worse.

NotSpaghetti Tue 20-Apr-21 17:11:04

My point exactly M0nica

M0nica Tue 20-Apr-21 19:39:45

Sorry Notspaghetti It just flowed from the first point I wanted to make - that the pharmaceutical companies are already licensing these vaccines out for other companies to make for them, that is why we had all that problem with plants making the vaccine in Belgium and India and why so many millions of vaccine doses have already been distributed and used.

The rest just followed, I do appreciate that you made the point first.

NotSpaghetti Tue 20-Apr-21 19:48:56

Thanks M0nica - but I was genuinely just agreeing with you! And myself I suppose! grin

I was underlining my original comment...
There's way too many people who say to just make it "open source" - but it not a scone recipe.
So many opportunities for fakes and poor practice.