Weekly Policy Update: Legislators of the Year Announced + TRIPS Waiver Update
By: Colorado BioScience Association Date: 10/15/2021
Legislators of the Year
CBSA recognized four state legislators for their leadership on issues critical to life sciences, earlier this week at the Innovation Forward Forum + Awards Celebration. Senator Chris Hansen, Senate District 31 (Arapahoe and Denver), Senator Jim Smallwood, Senate District 4 (Douglas County), Representative Shannon Bird, House District 35 (Adams County), and House Minority Leader Representative Hugh McKean, House District 51 (Larimer County) were named legislators of the year.
CBSA thanks Senator Hansen, Senator Smallwood, Representative Bird, and Minority Leader McKean for collaborating with CBSA on our work to build a pro-business environment for life sciences innovation. These legislative champions ensure that the Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant program and other initiatives that support life sciences innovation continue to contribute to the growth and health of life sciences in our state.
TRIPS Waiver Update
This week, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Council on Trade-Relations Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) met in Geneva to discuss the future of the proposal to wave IP protections for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. It had become increasingly clear even before this week’s meetings that it would be unlikely that member countries would be able to come to an agreement on the waiver. The waiver, which was first offered by India and South Africa over a year ago, is supported by 64 sponsoring governments, with more than 100 countries supporting overall. While the Biden administration had announced support for the proposal, firm opposition from the UK, Germany, and Switzerland have left negotiations at an impasse. Supporting countries have been targeting the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference at the end of November, for the adoption of the waiver, and it remains unclear whether the Council will be able to make that deadline.
Gary Locke, former Commerce Secretary and ambassador to China under the Obama administration was recently quoted in Endpoints News, noting the reality of the impact of the proposed waiver, “The proposed TRIPS waiver would do nothing to expand mRNA manufacturing capacity. Every scientist and company that knows how to make the vaccines is already working to scale production. And every facility on earth that can safely and reliably produce shots is doing so.” He also said he didn’t think the US should give away its taxpayer-funded mRNA research to countries like China as that could “jeopardize American economic competitiveness.”
Earlier this year the Colorado BioScience Association (CBSA), along with 300 other global biotechnology companies and associations, signed onto a declaration outlining the harm of a proposed waiver highlighting that it would be ineffective and counterproductive in addition to setting a bad precedent for IP protections within the biotech sector for years to come.
CBSA, along with our partners at BIO and the Council of State Bioscience Associations (CSBA), will continue to advocate against the waiver as the WTO. CBSA’s outreach has included a special opinion piece published in the Colorado Sun this past June. The column emphasized that IP protections are essential to the technology transfer process in life sciences that leads from lab invention to life-saving commercial products.
CBSA advocates for a supportive, pro-innovation business climate for life sciences. We support proposals to strengthen the ability of patent owners to defend their inventions and businesses against infringement.