Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) on Monday said waiving intellectual property rights will not lead to increased production of COVID-19 vaccines, as it is not the barrier to their adequate availability in India.
A proposal moved by India and South Africa before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to temporarily suspend trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights for the COVID-19 vaccines to increase their access amid the coronavirus pandemic has gained support across a number of countries, including the US.
The industry body said it is cognizant that with the rising COVID-19 cases in India and other developing nations, there is an urgency to rapidly-produce greater quantities of COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccine manufacturing is a complex process and scaling up capacities involves the transfer of critical know-how, it added.
This can only be optimally achieved when vaccine manufacturers are able to scale up capacities at their production sites and/or through licensing agreements with other manufacturers, along with supply agreements with governments to make required quantities deployed rapidly and reliably, OPPI said.
“Waiving of intellectual property rights will neither lead to increased production of vaccines or increased deployment nor practical solutions to fight the virus of COVID-19 since IP is not the barrier to the adequate availability of vaccines in India,” it added.
The association said waiving intellectual property rights could impact patient safety by opening doors for counterfeit vaccines to enter the supply chain.
“There is also a risk of diverting precious raw materials and ingredients necessary to produce the vaccines from high-quality manufacturers to inexperienced ones, further disrupting the existing manufacturing capacity,” OPPI said.
It may also stifle further investment in R&D that are instrumental in delivering new vaccines and treatments against new virus variants, it added.
Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) was established in 1965 and represents research-based multinational pharmaceutical companies in India.