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

Tom Wilbur   |     October 7, 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:

  • “We have to be very careful when it comes to innovation and the protection of innovation because it can make a big, big difference to the human condition… Various IP owners in the space are collaborating with each other and with others nationally and internationally more than ever. There are private licensing deals [being] done across the world in a variety of ways and all the evidence suggests that the market system for intellectual property rights is working very well… If we don’t send a strong message that IP rights are protected, when they are actually needed, then inventors and investors will not be incentivized and will not feel comfortable making the investments necessary to create the innovations for the next crisis down the line.” – Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, in an interview with the Hudson Institute

  • “Due to strong U.S. protection for intellectual property, the United States has been at the forefront of pharmaceutical innovation for decades. We are now better prepared to seek solutions to a pandemic than any other country in the world… Eliminating intellectual property protections would not only reduce incentives to develop coronavirus treatments as quickly as possible; they will also destroy the domestic industrial base that could be the key to stopping the next pandemic… If governments strip away intellectual property protections, they will set an uncertainty-inducing precedent that will discourage the funding researchers need to explore other potential uses for today’s discoveries. We would compromise our response to this pandemic — and the next one.” – Christopher Holman, Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law and Senior Scholar at the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, in The Nashua Telegraph
  • “The health care research ecosystem has shifted into overdrive in response to Covid-19, sparking unprecedented speed and agility...Competition and intellectual property incentives remain vital to fuel the innovation engine that positions the pharmaceutical industry to help address this and other crises. However, the pandemic is catalyzing conversations about expanding partnerships in ways that can mutually benefit all players.” – Anne White, President of Lilly Oncology, in STAT
  • “Intellectual property protections aren’t a barrier to care. Just the opposite. They’re responsible for the most revolutionary medical innovations in human history. And they’re our best hope of ending this pandemic... If Congress guts intellectual property protections, biotech firms will hesitate to invest additional money in future research and development projects. There’s no surer way to limit patients’ access to health care than to undermine IP rights – and thus ensure that new medicines are never invented at all.” – Adam Mossoff, Professor of Law at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University and Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, in The Coastland Times

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 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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