Intellectual property drives and sustains research, development and delivery of valuable new treatments and cures for patients who need them around the world. America’s world-leading research-based biopharmaceutical industry supports 3.4 million good-paying jobs in all 50 states. With this in mind, PhRMA takes the annual opportunity to submit our comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Special 301 Report– a regular review of trade barriers that exist with U.S. trading partners.
Strong intellectual property protection and enforcement provides powerful incentives that drive and sustain substantial investments in valuable treatments and cures. Where markets are open and intellectual property is protected and enforced, biopharmaceutical innovators have the predictability and certainty they need to collaborate with partners, compete successfully and accelerate the launch of new medicines.
But around the world, many of America’s top trading partners are taking actions that undermining incentives for biopharmaceutical innovation and limiting patient access to new treatments and cures. PhRMA’s 2016 Special 301 Overview highlights these damaging actions and urges USTR and other federal agencies to use all available tools and leverage to address and resolve them. While developing countries like China are the biggest culprits, Canada, as an advanced economy and the United States’ largest trading partner, stands out as an outlier when it comes to respecting intellectual property.
Based on a novel legal theory used nowhere else in the world, Canadian courts have revoked 22 patents on innovative medicines since 2005 that are used by millions of people suffering from cancer, osteoporosis, diabetic nerve pain and other serious conditions. The lack of IP protection has already made its mark. Since the “promise doctrine” was introduced, the number of clinical trials conducted in Canada has decreased by 21 percent – forcing Canadian patients to miss out on improvements to existing treatments, including new formulations and delivery methods that can make medicines easier to use.
With a recently elected government, Canada has an opportunity to reform its approach to IP and establish a system that encourages innovation and improves access to treatments and cures for Canadians.