In a Letter to the Editor in the New York Times, James Sailer, Executive Director of the Population Council’s Center for Biomedical Research, makes the case for maintaining the intellectual property system, which rewards research and development innovation. The letter is in response to an opinion piece arguing for the suspension of intellectual property rights to improve provision of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The government has many other options to achieve the important public policy goal of providing broad access to vaccines. It can encourage and reward out-licensing and technology transfer, negotiate preferential pricing or simply provide volume purchasing guarantees — options that would not have the unfortunate effect of discouraging pharmaceutical innovation. We need effective vaccines not just for this emergency, but for the next one as well.