Patents are the linchpin of innovation. In the United States and other countries around the world, they provide temporary protection for new inventions. A fair, stable and predictable patent system is the engine of the leading-edge U.S. biopharmaceutical industry, which produces $1.2 trillion in annual economic output and supports 4.5 million jobs across America.
But those jobs are put at risk when other countries twist the rules and undermine a global patent system that has worked well for decades. When other countries don’t value and protect innovation – whether by violating patents, imposing egregious price controls, or ignoring their international trade commitments – they also threaten the availability of existing treatments and cures for a wide range of diseases and jeopardize the 7,000 medicines currently in development worldwide.
Many countries are violating important global trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement and their broader international commitments by preventing American inventors from keeping – or even getting – patents on many biopharmaceutical innovations. For example, a judge-made doctrine used only in Canada has resulted in 28 lost patents on medicines in the last decade.
Additionally, India, Indonesia and Argentina do not grant any patent protection to many new medicines researched and developed in the United States. This practice is not only out of step with global trade rules, but also prevents patients from benefiting from valuable improvements that can make medicines more effective and easier to take.
For decades, innovation has thrived and proliferated through a patent system that supports jobs and rewards investments in the research and development necessary to bring new treatments and cures to patients who need them. But this system has never been more at risk around the world. The U.S. Government must hold other countries to the commitments they make and protect American jobs and innovation.