CIRIEC Working Papers 2021/03- FREE ACCESS

publication 08/02/2022
Ciriec publicationPUBLICATION 
Ciriec - working papers
Patents for Covid-19 vaccines are based on public research:
a case study on the privatization of knowledge 

Massimo FLORIO

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to reconsider the relationship between public and private research and development (R&D).
The policy issue is whether, over the next 20 years, governments’ only negotiating position on biomedical technologies will be to sign one purchase contract after another and transfer value from tax payers to investors in pharmaceutical companies. Knowledge and technologies that are crucial to Covid-19 vaccine development and production were created with the contribution of governments. Patents filed by pharma companies do not protect the public interest arising from such earlier research.
The paper offers a case study on the privatization of knowledge created in the first place by R&D in the public sector or supported by public funds and eventually being appropriated by pharmaceutical corporations. 

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