Drug makers say IP barriers not the bottleneck in boosting vaccine production

ZURICH, March 9 (Reuters) - Manufacturing capacity and shortages of ingredients are the main bottlenecks in expanding COVID-19 vaccine production, a drug industry group said on Tuesday, not the patents that some groups want removed.

“IP (intellectual property) rights is not the issue. The bottlenecks are the capacity, the scarcity of raw materials, scarcity of ingredients, and it is about the know-how,” Thomas Cueni, head of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), said after a virtual meeting of big pharmaceutical companies and other groups on how to boost the supply of vaccines to meet demand.

World Trade Organization member states open talks on Wednesday on a joint proposal by India and South Africa to waive such IP rules for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, which Cueni’s group and many developed nations oppose. Activists accuse rich countries of blocking production of COVID-19 vaccines in poorer nations by refusing to waive patents.

Reporting by John Miller in Zurich and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Kevin Liffey