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The latest: What they are saying: Intellectual property protections vital to COVID-19 research, development and manufacturing

Tom Wilbur   |     February 12, 2021   |   SHARE THIS

Strong and reliable IP protections – including patents – have supported America’s robust innovation ecosystem by promoting discovery, development, affordability and access to new treatments and cures. As our industry continues to expand vaccine production and deliver medicines to patients in need, reliable IP protections have been critical in supporting multiple research and development and manufacturing ramp-ups on COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. Innovators need strong and reliable IP protections to research, develop and manufacture new therapeutics and vaccines that will improve patients’ lives during the current pandemic and beyond.

Experts continue to highlight the importance of strong IP protections that encourage innovators to develop and produce COVID-19 solutions. Here are some of their thoughts:

  • “Consider…the multiple COVID-19 vaccines that were developed in less than a year, but are based on decades of research and countless inventions in dozens of scientific and technology disciplines. The importance of our nation’s consistent support of such creativity over time is more evident now than ever…Our intellectual property system — born from our Constitution and steeped in our history — is strong and it supports our nation’s innovators who are more creative and more capable than they have ever been.” – Andrei Iancu, then-Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office

  • “Of all of the ways to improve access to critical medication or vaccines, elimination of intellectual property rights is one of the worst. Our intellectual property system is designed to reward research and development innovation. Tampering with that sends a chilling signal about the rewards of corporate funding of the development and manufacture of new drugs, and tears down a system that has allowed the U.S. government to realize an enormous return on its investment into biomedical research.” – Jim Sailer, executive director of the Population Council’s Center for Biomedical Research, in The New York Times

  • “The role and importance of intellectual property standards have never been more apparent than during this global pandemic. The ecosystem for innovation spans basic scientific research, applied science, product development and testing, and commercialization… The role of intellectual property laws in this ecosystem is to enable those investments by transparently and predictably assigning rights to the breakthroughs that result at each respective phase of the innovation ecosystem. Those legal rights allow stakeholders to come to terms on contractual arrangements that enable collaboration by ensuring each party agrees on the value the others are bringing to the project. By doing so, intellectual property rights provide a vehicle to transform new technologies from useful knowledge into finished products that can serve an end-user, such as a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19.” – Patrick Kilbride, Senior Vice President at the Global Innovation Policy Center, US Chamber of Commerce, in Express Pharma 

  • “At every step of drug development, intellectual property rights (IPRs) play a crucial role, supporting early research, bringing treatments through clinical trials, and getting them to patients…IP is the bedrock upon which today’s COVID-19 vaccines have been built… The IP system encouraged the rapid establishment of dozens of partnerships around COVID-19, with even commercial rivals prepared to cooperate and share capital and proprietary intellectual resources such as compound libraries…”– Philip Stevens, Executive Director of Geneva Network, and Mark Schultz, Goodyear Endowed Chair in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Akron School of Law, in Geneva Network 

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 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: Research and Development, Intellectual Property, IP Explained, Coronavirus

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