Over the last two and a half decades the world’s life expectancy has grown from 65 to 71 years. This life-changing advance is due in no small part to the creation of new drugs, therapies and treatments that have mitigated and even cured a variety of diseases and conditions that once may have been chronic or even fatal. The development of new generations of treatments is, in part, a result of nations around the globe understanding the importance of supporting intellectual property policies that encourage innovation and risk-taking.
According to a new study by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation titled, How National Policies Impact Global Biopharma Innovation: A Worldwide Ranking, while many countries have followed the lead of innovation and life-science leaders such as the United States and European nations, other countries are falling behind at a cost to their innovation economies and even the patient care their citizens receive. Among the countries that are failing to develop modern IP infrastructures is one of our America’s leading allies and trade partners Canada.
In creating its ranking of countries, ITIF looked at a number of criteria that, when taken together, help determine the degree to which nations support innovation and life-sciences development. In a number of cases, Canada jumped out of the findings as have far more mediocre IP policies than would be expected of a modern, developed economy and nation. For instance, the report discovered that Canada only warranted a moderate score when it comes to supporting life-sciences innovation.
What’s more, the ITIF found that in a ranking of Countries’ Contributions to Global Life-Sciences Innovation, Canada ranks only 27th of 56 nations – behind not only peers like the United States (#1 overall), but also behind nations like Mexico, Greece and Colombia.
A primary reason for Canada’s poor innovation performance is its application of a novel legal theory known as the “Promise Doctrine.” Since the mid 2000’s Canadian courts have revoked 24 patents on innovative medicines used by millions of people suffering from cancer, osteoporosis, diabetic nerve pain and other serious conditions. The “Promise Doctrine” contrasts with established record of how innovators turn research and development into new treatments and cures.
As the report states, “Without sufficient IP protections, innovators will have little motivation to invest the economic resources necessary to discover new pharmaceutical compounds.” The time has come for Canada to modernize its IP practices, fix the broken “Promise Doctrine” and enact policies that spur innovation, growth and the discovery of tomorrow’s cures.