Analysis of EU position on compulsory licensing and TRIPS waiver in the COVID-19 pandemic
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Commission emphasises the option of using compulsory licensing to facilitate production of COVID-19 medical tools in its Intellectual Property Action Plan. During World Trade Organisation negotiations over the past several months on the proposed temporary waiver from certain intellectual property obligations under the TRIPS Agreement (TRIPS waiver), the European Union (EU) has pointed to the availability of compulsory licensing as a main reason to object to the waiver.
Compulsory licensing is an important public health safeguard, and MSF has long advocated for the use of this tool as needed to ensure access to essential medicines. Unfortunately, there are legal obstacles that can hinder the effective and rapid use of this mechanism in public health emergencies, including in the EU.
This briefing document details how the EU should support the TRIPS waiver for COVID-19, while addressing the remaining barriers to compulsory licensing in the EU as part of its longer-term pharmaceutical strategy.