Technical brief |

Overcoming intellectual property monopolies in the COVID-19 pandemic

Photograph by Sandy McKee

MSF is responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic, providing treatment and care for people with COVID-19, protecting people living in vulnerable conditions, and ensuring uninterrupted essential health services. Having universal access to existing and future tools for COVID-19 treatment, diagnosis and prevention is critical.

MSF has repeatedly witnessed how intellectual property (IP) monopolies result in lack of access to such health tools for the people we care for. In the past and today, high prices of patented medicines have undermined access to treatment for people with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C. Barriers due to IP have limited the availability of more affordable pneumonia vaccines for children in low- and middle-income countries.

This briefing document summarises how IP monopolies can block access to COVID-19 medicines, tests, and future vaccines, and provides recommendations on how to overcome these barriers.