While strong intellectual property rights (IPRs) are frequently depicted as a barrier to wider access to medicines, evidence suggests that weak intellectual property rights environments are also a barrier to access, discouraging timely product launches. In the current debate over access to medicine, it is essential to recognize that insufficient IP rights also harm patients. Affordable…unaffordable…before price can be an issue, products must be available. As noted by Lanjouw, “Less than one-half of the new pharmaceutical molecules that are marketed worldwide are sold in any given country, and those that are sold are often available to consumers in one country only six or seven years after those in another. Both price regulation and intellectual property rights influence these outcomes.” If cancer patients are to receive the treatments they need, nations must embrace both availability and affordability. Sufficient intellectual property rights protection is key to availability.
Intellectual property protection is essential to global health and the future of medicine. In the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement we have the ability to embrace medical breakthroughs and invest in a healthier future, or to undermine it. The United States is currently negotiating the TPP with eleven other nations (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam), and intellectual property protection is a contentious issue in the discussions.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center finds 58 percent of Americans say free trade agreements with other countries have been good for America compared to 33 percent who say free trade is bad for America.
Majorities across all income categories say free trade agreements have been a positive thing for the U.S.
Canada and the European Union recently announced the completion of the largest trade agreement in Canada’s history, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Importantly, the agreement moves beyond the traditional reduction of tariffs and elimination of non-tariff barriers to close critical gaps that currently exist in intellectual property protections.
Innovation is the engine of economic growth and development. Research and development (R&D) spending is what creates jobs and makes innovation a reality. As the global economy continues to recover and regain its former strength, the pharmaceutical industry remains the world’s largest source of R&D spending. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, global pharmaceutical companies expect to spend just over $92 billion on research in 2015. Citing the 38th annual R&D Ratios & Budgets report from Schonfeld & Associates, the article notes that the pharmaceutical industry will spend 40% more than automotive companies which will be the second biggest investors at $65 billion.
A great article by Dr. Kristina Lybecker, Associate Professor of Economics at Colorado College, published in IP Watchdog on the battle for health in India and the TRIPS Agreement.
"The compulsory licensing provisions of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS agreement and public health have the potential to save lives and protect public health. However, to deliver on this potential the provisions must be used responsibly. Specifically, the interpretation of ‘national emergency’ should adhere to both the text of the declaration, as well as its intent.
"It is time for India’s leaders to recognize the positive role that IP can play in fostering growth and improving citizens’ wellbeing," states Rod Hunter (senior director for international economics on President George W. Bush’s National Security Council, is a senior vice president at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) in his recent op-ed featured in Today's Zaman. "The reality is that IP protection is an economic engine that developing-country citizens should not have to forego."
An interesting article by Dr. Kristina Lybecker from IP WatchDog (Feb. 17, 2014) in regards to a recent report from the University College London (UCL) School of Pharmacy and at the London School of Economics (LSE). Dr. Lybecker highlights that "While intellectual property rights are essential to medical progress, policymakers must balance the needs of current populations against rewards for innovators as well as the needs of future populations. In this context, the authors note that preserving and sometimes strengthening intellectual property rights are essential to continued innovation."
Perhaps most importantly, she notes that "Underinvesting in innovation for the future would harm both the interests of patients and the global public."
An interesting article by Jasson Urbach, who argues that the South African government’s proposals to reform the intellectual property regime will hinder trade and industry more than encourage it.
A new caucus of supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement under negotiation was launched yesterday in the US Congress and is headed by four co-chairmen: Republican Reps. David Reichert of Washington and Charles Boustany of Louisiana, and Democratic Reps. Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Gregory Meeks of New York. The four members issued a press announcement with statements on why they are supporting the agreement, which they say is important for US jobs, exports and economic growth.