Intended for healthcare professionals


WHO pandemic treaty: Negotiations falter as pharma companies warn that intellectual property rules will harm profits

BMJ 2023; 383 doi: (Published 25 October 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;383:p2475
  1. Luke Taylor
  1. Bogotá

Pharmaceutical representatives and Germany’s health ministry have publicly opposed the latest draft of the World Health Organization’s pandemic treaty as a disagreement over waiving intellectual property (IP) rights becomes a sticking point in negotiations.

WHO’s pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response accord is intended to prevent future health threats from becoming as catastrophic as covid-19 by legally obligating countries to cooperate, share knowledge, and reduce health inequities.

Since WHO’s 194 member states officially began negotiating on the treaty’s content in March this year disagreements have centred on the scope of the accord and how strongly countries should be obligated to fulfil its stipulations. The disagreements, which often follow the dividing lines of lower and higher income countries, seem to be hardening as the thorny issue of IP comes into focus.

“For countries like Germany and most European countries, it is clear that such an agreement will not fly if there is a major limitation on intellectual property rights,” said Germany’s …

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