Technology Transfer – Snippets Thu, 22 Jul 2021 02:10:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Technology Transfer – Snippets 32 32 The private sector must support government efforts in funding research and development in Nigeria – Emeje Thu, 22 Jul 2021 01:30:17 +0000

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) partnered with the South African Consortium to establish its first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer center. What structures should Nigeria put in place for the country to move in this direction?

For WHO to partner with the South African Consortium to establish its first COVID mRNA vaccine technology transfer center, it means the country has prequalification and the country can only qualify if it is interested in exporting drugs or vaccines to other countries.

Nigeria is not yet ready to mass produce vaccines, but for us to move in that direction we need to have a vision and that vision should be to prioritize R&D in the country.

Because the production of vaccines requires huge funds, we should above all be interested in making drugs and vaccines for ourselves. I suggested that companies need to come together and develop viable strategies, so that they can get funding from government and maybe international organizations to make vaccines or drugs for Nigeria.

COVID-19 has underlined the importance of local production to deal with health emergencies, strengthen regional health security and expand sustainable access to health products. Do Nigerian Scientists Have What It Takes to Produce a COVID-19 Vaccine?

Nigeria is home to one of the best brains of pharmaceutical scientists in the world. Nigeria has the human capacity to manufacture any type of drug, to undertake research and development on any type of drug, whether synthetic or natural. The country also has the professional, intellectual and industrial know-how necessary for the production of vaccines.

In terms of infrastructure capacity, however, Nigeria lacks the infrastructure capacity to manufacture, not just vaccines, but all drugs.

As we speak, Nigeria does not manufacture any medicine. Nigeria imports 100 percent of its drug needs from other countries. We import raw materials, that is, active pharmaceutical ingredients, and then we compose or produce them into capsules, tablets, injections and syrups, etc. Sometimes we import already finished products from India, China and United Kingdom (UK) into our healthcare system. and in the market to be sold in pharmacy or patent stores or in our hospitals.

So we are not manufacturing anything and this is because the infrastructure required for the Nigerian pharmaceutical space, industry players i.e. scientists to undertake the synthesis of chemical compounds needed for manufacturing of our own medicines and vaccines, are not available at this stage.

Can the intervention funds of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) help the local production of drugs and vaccines in Nigeria?

On the intervention grant from the central bank of Nigeria for research, the grant is a welcome development, but it will not be enough to produce a vaccine because we are starting from scratch.

Research and development have been neglected over the years. Nigerian leaders are not prioritizing research and development. We hear about intervention because of COVID-19, which affects us all.

When we all found out that the whole aviation industry was shut down and no one could travel anywhere, and the rich men of Nigeria found their huge money was useless to them because they couldn’t travel to the stranger to buy health care, so they began to look inside. . It was then that they realized that medicine is a safety material. They realized that handing over drug production to foreign countries is a huge mistake and a lack of governance prowess. So they started to look inside and that’s why you hear about interventions here and there.

Although the intervention fund is too small, however, I recommend this initiative to start. This intervention must continue so that we can achieve the purpose and objective of the grant in the first place. If CBN makes this a one-off intervention, I bet you we’ll be back to square zero by the time the next pandemic arrives, because I can assure you there will be another pandemic in the future.

If R&D funding is consistent, will Nigerian scientists be able to produce a viable COVID-19 vaccine over the next five years?

The countries that prepare for war in peacetime are the ones that will survive. It is not during the war that one starts to buy ammunition. This is the peacetime that you started to research and prepare for.

In 1976, when the Ebola virus broke out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, American scientists took blood samples from the DRC to the UN. More than 30 years later, before Ebola became a problem around the world, and at that time the United States already had a therapeutic agent pending. This is how to be a responsible country.

For Nigeria to produce a vaccine, the CBN intervention must be an annual initiative. CBN must, of necessity, fund the project for 25 years, it must be able to distribute 50 billion naira to scientists in this country to continue to undertake research and development in our medical plan and then we can come up with our own. vaccine. By the way, the vaccine does not necessarily have to be biological material obtained only from organisms, it can also be a herbal vaccine.

If funding is consistent and CBN is determined to prioritize research and development, over the next five years we will be able to produce our first vaccine against COVID-19. But anyone who thinks Nigeria’s COVID-19 vaccine will be ready soon because CBN gave researchers N500m, is a joker because N500m does not produce a vaccine.

To begin with, I will advise that the CBN selects five researchers from the base of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), merge them for the purpose of local production of COVID-19 vaccine and provide an annual fund of N500m for 10 years. I can assure you that before the 10 years they will be able to come up with a vaccine, as long as the funding is constant for about 10 years.

Government cannot fund R&D alone, what do you advise pharmaceutical companies and the private sector to fund R&D in Nigeria?

Pharmaceutical companies and the private sector should also step up funding for research and development in Nigeria, as the government cannot do it alone. The AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company funded or partially funded the AstraZeneca vaccine that we use today. Pfizer has also funded its own vaccine, so pharmaceutical companies should be prepared to do that in Nigeria and stop funding election campaigns that are of little value to Nigerians.

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Africa: European duplicity undermines anti-pandemic efforts Wed, 21 Jul 2021 04:41:54 +0000

Sydney and Kuala Lumpur – Despite facing the worst global pandemic of the last century, rich countries in the World Trade Organization (WTO) have blocked efforts to allow more affordable access to the means to fight the pandemic.

Everyone knows that universal access to screening, treatment and prevention – including diagnostic tests, therapeutic drugs, personal protective equipment and vaccines – is crucial.

European deception

In October 2020, South Africa and India asked the WTO to temporarily suspend the relevant provisions of its Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). As of May 2021, the proposal had 62 co-sponsors and the support of more than two-thirds of WTO member states.

Despite overwhelming support from low- and middle-income countries, Western governments, big pharmaceutical companies and other industry officials dismiss this waiver request as not only unnecessary, but also undermining future technological innovation.

Although most members of the European Parliament support the waiver proposal, it is actively opposed by European governments and the European Commission (EC), the executive branch of the European Union (EU).

It is also fought by Brazil and other wealthy countries, such as the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, and Japan. However, the Biden administration now supports a temporary exemption for vaccines, but remains silent on other urgently needed items.

Misleadingly, EU leaders insist that the request for a temporary waiver is unnecessary, but intellectual property rights (IPRs) are essential for innovation. “IPR regimes have second-order effects on innovation rates at best.” In fact, “when patent rights have been too broad or strong, they have actually discouraged innovation.”

They mistakenly claim that access can be obtained through existing voluntary licensing (VL), technology transfer, COVAX bulk purchasing, and existing TRIPS flexibilities, in particular compulsory licenses ( CL). But these so-called solutions are known to be grossly inadequate.

COVAX is struggling due to insufficient funding, supply shortages and insufficient donations. As a result, many poor countries did not even submit an application. As IPRs have been strengthened internationally since 1995, TNCs find technology transfer agreements less profitable.

Large pharmaceutical company law

Strict international application of patent protection is recent. The then president of Pfizer, Edmund Pratt, succeeded in putting intellectual property on the Uruguay Round agenda of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which created WTO and TRIPS in 1995.

Fearful that stronger intellectual property rights will strengthen corporate power and reduce affordable access to life-saving medicines, many developing countries have resisted TRIPS. But rich countries pushed through TRIPS, using carrots and sticks to divide developing countries.

TRIPS includes CL, first introduced in the 1883 Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. This allows a government to allow a third party to make or use a patented product or process without the consent of the patentee. But this can only be for home use, subject to other conditions, for example, paying “to the right holder … adequate remuneration”.

Despite great efforts, governments of rich countries did not increase members’ obligations on TRIPS at the 1997 WTO Ministerial Conference in Singapore. Nonetheless, US President Clinton tried again at the Seattle ministerial conference in 1999, triggering an African walkout.

After September 11, some concessions were made before the Doha Ministerial Conference in 2001, including a new “development round” of WTO talks. Two decades later, no conclusion is in sight as rich countries see little chance of getting what they want.

With the HIV / AIDS crisis, the campaign against TRIPS was stimulated by the leadership of President Mandela. The Doha Ministerial Declaration included “public health exceptions” to TRIPS. Now it is not necessary to negotiate VLs first during health emergencies. In addition, countries without manufacturing capacity can use LCs to import cheaper versions.

European disappointments

By insisting that the existing flexibilities of TRIPS are sufficient, EU leaders deny any real problems in practice. Ignoring decades of experience, they used to insist that VL arrangements are sufficient to increase production and share expertise.

In reality, VLs are often shrouded in secrecy, with patent holders choosing beneficiaries and even distributors. Thus, the AstraZeneca VL of the Serum Institute of India limits what it can produce and prevents it from meeting Indian and other needs.

They concede that when “voluntary cooperation fails, compulsory licenses … are a legitimate tool in the context of a pandemic”. But LCs are only relevant for patents, not for new vaccines that have not been patented, and negate other PI barriers.

The EC’s arguments protect Big Pharma, but effectively reject the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) initiative. C-TAP aims to enable equitable access to technologies for approved COVID-19 vaccines and therapies. But industry and government officials dismiss technology sharing as unnecessary, and worse yet, dangerous to future innovation.

Inflexible “flexibilities”

For a long time, the big pharmaceutical companies and their governments, including the EC, have pressured developing countries not to use the same LCs they now present as the solution. The U.S. Trade Representative has regularly threatened countries using LCs for drugs with sanctions, only recognizing the right of others to use them this year.

LCs are very difficult to use, especially by countries with limited negotiating capacities or relevant manufacturing capacities. The existing arrangements require complicated country-by-country, company-by-company and patent-to-patent negotiations, which also raises enormous coordination problems.

The provision of CL may be sufficient for some, but certainly not for all the necessary equipment, tests and drugs. Many products require multiple LCs, which means that “an overwhelming number of LCs must be coordinated and granted in multiple countries.”