Throughout the misery of this global COVID-19 pandemic, the heroic efforts of American healthcare professionals have been on full display. With the help of Operation Warp Speed and building on years of research, American pharmaceutical companies developed three safe and effective vaccines that have essentially ended the pandemic. This impeccable American innovation has allowed us to leave lockdowns, take off our masks, and begin a return to normalcy.
But, oddly, the Biden-Harris Administration is now seeking to undermine the foundation that led to this success. In May, the Administration announced support for waiving intellectual property (IP) protections for COVID-19 vaccines in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) at the World Trade Organization. This would give the world, including China and other competitors, access to the IP of American companies that worked tirelessly to save us all from the pandemic.
Stripping innovators of their constitutionally protected patents will undermine innovation, weaken our international competitiveness, and only help the Chinese Communist Party, who ruthlessly spread the pandemic. For years, we have all complained about China stealing IP from American companies, and now President Biden’s plan is to give it away for free? Truly unbelievable.
If the government moves in and steals the IP from pharmaceutical companies, what incentive will they have to invest the billions of dollars necessary for the next life-saving breakthrough drug or vaccine? It could put a screeching halt to promising research to cure cancers, Alzheimer’s, ALS, and other deadly diseases. Suspending IP protections now would put us in a much worse position for the next pandemic, but it also won’t help the rest of the world deal with the current pandemic. That’s because it would likely take manufacturers years to build the facilities and source the necessary materials to safely produce vaccines, even with the intellectual property that President Biden would force American innovators to give away.
As German chancellor Angela Merkel said, “I see more risks than opportunities and I do not believe that releasing patents is the solution to provide vaccines for more people.” It’s a sad day when the Chancellor of Germany is more concerned about American ingenuity than the President of the United States.
It’s obvious that Biden’s plan to undercut American innovation and investment will not yield safe and effective vaccines. But caving to the progressives’ radical list of demands is seemingly more important to the Biden Administration.
What’s worse, House Democrats want to expand on the innovation-killing policies of the Biden Administration with H.R. 3’s government price controls on drugs. We already know that H.R. 3 will result in fewer new drugs, but the Democrats continue to ignore the reality of their extremist policies.
If the Biden Administration is able to follow through on its intellectual property giveaway and if House Democrats continue to prescribe policy that aligns with H.R. 3, then the American people will suffer. We will experience delays to essential drug development and decreases in medical discoveries that can save lives and cure diseases, just as they experience in other countries who already tried this approach.
The future of American medicine should not be plagued with violations of sacred American intellectual property and socialist price controls. Instead, the future should inspire generations of brilliant innovators and manufacturers to seek out new technology and information with faith in their government to safeguard their right to intellectual property protection. The Biden Administration is sending an alarming message to the Americans who have labored tirelessly in pursuit of solutions since the pandemic originated. It’s the wrong message.
• U.S. Representative Steve Scalise represents Louisiana’s First Congressional District and is the House Republican Whip, the second highest position in House Republican leadership. In addition to serving on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Whip Scalise is also the Ranking Member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. Four years ago this month, he was critically wounded at a Congressional baseball practice and credits the heroic response of U.S. Capitol police special agents, Alexandria police officers, and medical staff for saving his life. U.S Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, M.D., Iowa Republican, represents the Second Congressional District. She serves on the Education and Labor Committee, Homeland Security Committee, Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. She served 24 years in the United States Army as a Lt. Colonel, nurse, and doctor, and four years as the Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.