Running Out of Beds: How COVID-19 Demonstrates the Need to Repeal State Certificate of Need Laws

(Source) During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, states struggled in part because the disease caused demand for hospital beds to outstrip supply. Around one month into the pandemic, in New York City, for example, only about 300 intensive care unit (“ICU”) beds remained available. States reacted by creating more medical facilities, and New York City mobilized public and private hospitals to create more beds and ICUs. The sudden spike in demand for medical care brought into question existing certificate of need laws. Certificate of need (“CON”) laws require anyone who wants to construct a new healthcare facility to obtain permission from the state first. The state often requires that the applicant pay a fee and establish that there is a public need. Many states also allow interested parties to object to the new facility. New York passed the first certificate of needs of law in the mid-1960s. The idea behind these laws was to allow states, instead of the market, determine whether there is a public need for additional medical facilities. In normal times, perhaps the idea of states restraining the spread of medical facilities may make sense. However, these laws hampered states’ responses to [read more]

Patent Rights in a Pandemic: Does the Race for a Covid-19 Vaccine Mean Inequitable Access?

(Source)   The coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we know it. The world has come a long way since the initial outbreak, but the uncertainty surrounding a potential Covid-19 vaccine persists. Even with mounting uncertainty, the demand for a safe and effective vaccine continues to increase. The Food and Drug Administration’s approvals and authorizations for the Covid-19 vaccine are only some of the obstacles in this respect. Even if these approvals come through and a vaccine becomes marketable, there is no guarantee that the vaccine will be widely accessible. This is where intellectual property starts playing a crucial role in the distribution and affordability of a potentially successful vaccine. If this vaccine is patented, it would grant exclusive rights to the patent holder to exclude others from making, using, importing, and selling the patented innovation for the duration of the patent grant, within the boundaries of the United States. In the pharmaceutical industry, it is necessary to strike a balance between innovation  and the ethical implications of patents for human health. Patent protection is required to stimulate innovation and incentivize pharma companies given the extensive time and resources needed for the development of a new drug. This incentive is [read more]