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The latest: What they are saying: Intellectual property protections critical as we work to defeat COVID-19

Tom Wilbur   |     June 5, 2020   |   SHARE THIS

The U.S. biopharmaceutical industry depends on reliable intellectual property (IP) protections to promote the development of new treatments and cures for patients. Strong IP protections are especially important as innovators work around the clock making substantial investments at risk to develop solutions to help prevent infection and treat those with COVID-19, a disease caused by the novel strain of coronavirus. In fact, many of the existing medicines and investigational medicines in clinical trials for COVID-19 exist today because of IP and other incentives that drove their initial research and development.

Here is a closer look at recent comments spotlighting how strong IP protections help fuel discovery efforts for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines:

  • "Two things are going to get us out of this pandemic from a scientific and health perspective: innovation and collaboration. Every single lead that we have in terms of testing that is showing promise is the result of the IP system and strong IP rights. IP is also playing an incredibly important role on the collaboration side, as it is helping companies identify who has the right assets and intellectual capital that would make sense to bring together… Companies also need to have certainty about their IP rights. If we are going to open our compound libraries, if we're going to share platform technology, share know-how, we also need to know we can contribute the maximum while also being able to protect those aspects of that IP for things outside of COVID-19 so that we can continue to sustain our R&D model going forward.” – Corey Salsburg, vice president and global head of IP affairs at Novartis AG, in Pink Sheet Daily
  • “Confiscating patents would damage the innovation ecosystem that has generated breakthrough therapies and enabled scientists to work so quickly on Covid-19… If the government could arbitrarily march in and seize intellectual property, investors would hesitate to fund the research that has brought us so many innovations. There would be far fewer partnerships and licensing deals between companies and universities. And that would inevitably slow the development and reduce the availability of new treatments and vaccines, hurting patients everywhere.– Fred Reinhart, Past President of the Association of University Technology Managers, in STAT
  • “The cornerstone of innovation is the [IP] system which is working well in the pandemic. IP rights have facilitated cooperation and the sharing of proprietary data, know-how and technology between different and often competing organizations, both locally and internationally… There is no evidence that IP rights will pose a barrier to access. Already, life sciences companies are searching their patent and molecular reference libraries for promising compounds. Most companies working in this area have already stated any new products will be available on a non-profit basis… Any measure that undermines IP rights, jeopardizes innovation which is the lifeblood of global research and development of medicines.” CodeBlue
  • “Enabled by [intellectual] property rights, an unprecedented amount of knowledge is rapidly being generated by the global scientific community and shared with peers and public partners to reach a singular goal. And thanks to the robust IP protections secured in the United States specifically, scientists here have been able to get all their hands, clothed in latex gloves, on deck…” – Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, in Newsweek

Strong and reliable IP protections support America’s robust innovation ecosystem by promoting innovation and affordability for patients who rely on new treatments and cures, like those in development to treat COVID-19. America’s biopharmaceutical companies remain committed to ensuring that treatments and vaccines developed for COVID-19 are available to all who need them. For more information on the importance of IP rights, visit our IP page and stay tuned for our next IP Explained post.

Tom Wilbur

Tom Wilbur Tom Wilbur is director of public affairs at PhRMA focusing on federal advocacy priorities including Medicare and intellectual property. Prior to joining PhRMA, Tom worked in politics and on Capitol Hill, most recently responsible for communications and strategy for U.S. Rep. Fred Upton and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Tom is a proud Michigander and outside of the office enjoys reading, running, hiking, golfing, live music, and spending time with family and friends.

Topics: Intellectual Property, IP Explained, Coronavirus

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