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

Tom Wilbur   |     August 24, 2020   |   SHARE THIS

America’s biopharmaceutical companies are committed to COVID-19 treatment and vaccine research and development (R&D). Reliable IP protections have helped drive innovation and enhance patient access to breakthrough therapies. Innovators are also relying on these strong protections to discover new medical advances that will keep patients healthy during this pandemic and after.

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

  • “The Patent and Trademark Law Amendments Act — commonly known as the Bayh-Dole Act — helped set the stage for the public-private partnerships that are essential to developing a vaccine and effective treatments against the novel coronavirus. Several of the vaccines and therapeutics currently in development likely wouldn’t exist without this legislation. According to Bloomberg Law, ‘The most promising COVID-19 treatments and vaccines being explored right now were made possible’ because of Bayh-Dole... Many research institutions and universities are responsible for the kind of foundational discoveries and inventions that ultimately lead to innovative new cures and products. But it takes a massive investment and additional research and development by the private sector to bring these innovations to market. For every dollar the government spends, industry spends 10 to 100 times that amount.” – Bob Dole, former Republican presidential nominee and Senate majority leader, sponsor of the Bayh-Dole Act in Roll Call
  • IP has historically underpinned investment in technologically complex areas and that investment continues to be crucial as the pharmaceutical industry seeks to find effective treatments. Indeed, the incentives provided by patent protection have already resulted in a diverse range of drugs that have undergone extensive safety testing in relation to other diseases—drugs that are now being mined by a large number of companies to see if they can be repurposed for Covid-19. Without the patent system, existing drugs, such as remdesivir, would perhaps not have existed and would not now be available so quickly to treat Covid-19.” – Stephanie Pilkington, patent attorney at IP law firm Potter Clarkson LLP, in Bloomberg Law

  • “Intellectual property (IP) is a key building block for any successful and sustainable innovative industry, especially in high risk research. The biopharmaceutical industry’s ability to respond to COVID-19 and other epidemics with such speed and strength is a tribute to IP and to the sustainable innovation that it generates.” – Ideas Matter

  • “The most important problem we face is the lack of an approved covid-19 vaccine. But it is thanks in significant part to the incentives provided by IP rights that we have an innovation ecosystem capable of producing more than 160 experimental vaccines, 24 of which have already entered human trials. IP bolsters ongoing incentives for those involved in developing these candidates and can help delineate the partnerships needed as part of this effort.” – Adam Houldsworth, Life Sciences Reporter, in IAM Media
  • “If progressives have their way, every vaccine and drug maker could have to hand over its intellectual property on demand to the government. This would kill the innovation that is saving the lives of Covid patients.” – The Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal

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 is Director of Public Affairs at PhRMA focusing on message development and opinion research. Prior to joining PhRMA in 2019, Tom worked on Capitol Hill and on political campaigns for nearly a decade, most recently responsible for communications, campaigns and strategy for U.S. Rep. Fred Upton and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Tom is a proud Michigander and outside of the virtual office enjoys reading, running, hiking, golfing, and spending time with friends and family.

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

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