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American leadership on innovation policy is essential to global health progress

Ernest Kawka   |     May 4, 2021   |   SHARE THIS

Over the last year, the world has witnessed the importance of strong innovation policies as intellectual property protection and market access policies facilitated the research, development and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. Innovative medicines are now making their way to patients around the world, demonstrating remarkable progress and collaboration at a scale that was unimaginable at the start of the pandemic, including more than 200 manufacturing and other partnerships to date.

Underscoring the critical need for and value of American innovation, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released last week the 2021 Special 301 Report. The report showcases how effective intellectual property protection and enforcement and related market access issues are essential to tackling current and future global health challenges.

The report reaffirms the U.S. government’s continued commitment to promoting fair market access around the world for American inventions, including biopharmaceuticals. Promoting an equitable trading environment helps to deliver innovation worldwide and drives economic growth and job creation. In the United States alone, biopharmaceutical innovators contribute more than $1.1 trillion annually to the U.S. economy and create more than 4 million jobs across all 50 states. The 2021 Special 301 Report identifies how key U.S. trading partners can further increase the economic and innovation potential of open markets and implement effective intellectual property protection and enforcement regimes, including by addressing discriminatory, nontransparent and trade-restrictive measures and unreasonable regulatory approval and reimbursement delays.

The progress made over the last year is nothing short of incredible. Intellectual property protection has been essential not only to speed the research and development of new treatments and vaccines, but also to facilitate the sharing of technologies and information across borders to scale up vaccine manufacturing to meet global needs. Working together, we can continue to bring the benefits of biopharmaceutical innovation to patients around the world.

Required by the Trade Act of 1974, the annual Special 301 Report identifies foreign countries that deny adequate and effective intellectual property protection or fair and equitable market access for U.S. products. To view PhRMA’s complete 2021 Special 301 submission, please click here.

Ernest Kawka

Ernest Kawka Ernest Kawka is PhRMA’s deputy vice president for international intellectual property. Previously, he worked for industry’s international trade association in Geneva, Switzerland focusing on intellectual property and trade policies. He received a law degree from University of New Hampshire School of Law.

Topics: Intellectual Property, Trade, COVID-19

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