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What they are saying: Intellectual property protections are critical as we work to defeat COVID-19

Tom Wilbur   |     May 4, 2020   |   SHARE THIS

The U.S. biopharmaceutical industry depends on reliable intellectual property (IP) protections to promote the development of new breakthrough treatments and cures for patients. Strong IP protections are especially important while biopharmaceutical companies work around the clock to develop solutions to help prevent infection and treat those with COVID-19, a disease cause by the novel strain of coronavirus. In fact, many of the existing medicines and investigational medicines being tested for COVID-19 exist today because of IP and other incentives that drove their research and development.

Here is a closer look at recent comments spotlighting how strong IP protections help fuel discovery efforts for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines:

  • “The world has placed its profound confidence in the free enterprise of the leading scientists and innovators to reach as many solutions as possible in the shortest amount of time. It is obviously a heavy weight for researchers to bear, but not a burden…Removing the ability of these first responders to own their work while they are in the process, or after completion, undermines their efforts. Keeping these rights intact not only allows more knowledge-sharing in the fight against COVID-19 but also ensures long-term research to ready the fight against the next pandemic, as well.” – Philip Thomas, policy analyst at the Property Rights Alliance, in Morning Consult

  • “Good patent policy incentivizes inventors to find solutions, not merely for today’s, but for tomorrow’s problems… America’s biomedical innovators have assumed the risk of costly dead ends along the long, bumpy road to developing a successful drug, device or test that addresses COVID-19. They’ve shouldered this burden in good faith in a no-holds-barred race on all fronts — diagnostics, ventilators, personal protective equipment, therapeutics and vaccines. For many, the IP exclusivity over the terms of their patents will help offset R&D costs eaten now.” – James Edwards, IP consultant and Gene Quinn, President and CEO of IP Watchdog Inc., in IP Watchdog
  • “The Bayh-Dole Act represents one of the bedrock policies that has helped make the U.S. biomedical innovation system the envy of the world and a key place the world is now turning to in the search for an accessible coronavirus vaccine or treatment. Those who would misguidedly interpret Bayh-Dole march-in-rights as a price-control provision that could be leveraged in the coronavirus case or other circumstances advocate for an approach that threatens to seriously deter biomedical innovation and undermine a key pillar of America’s biomedical innovation system.” – Stephen Ezell, vice president for global innovation policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, in Morning Consult

  • “The appropriate intellectual property framework is enabling the rapid R&D response. Many potential treatments are based on decades of prior R&D and investment or originally were pioneered to treat other conditions. These breakthroughs were enabled by a robust innovation eco-system underpinned by effective IP.” – Oscar Guinea, senior economist at the European Centre for International Political Economy and Koen Berden, executive director of international trade at the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations in EFPIA News

  • “From the birth of the modern pharmaceutical industry in the early 20th century, the U.S. patent system incentivized R&D in new drugs and medical treatments. Our scientists have led the world in creating breakthrough medical treatments. The vaccines and drug treatments they created improved the quality of life and extended lifespans for billions of people around the world. Instead of imposing more price controls and regulatory burdens, lawmakers should be bolstering legal protection for innovations in life-saving [COVID-19] treatments and cures. They should reform the patent laws to ensure investments continue in creating new cures.” – Adam Mossoff, patent law expert at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, in The Washington Times

  • “The right of exclusivity that IP, particularly patents, provides innovators is critical to developing and commercializing cutting-edge inventions in biopharma… American IP, including the right to exclude competitors during the limited duration of a patent term, is essential to our solving the current global medical crisis, continually introducing new cures and better therapies and sustaining the high-skill jobs in the life sciences sector.” – James Edwards, IP consultant in IP Watchdog

Strong IP protections support America’s robust innovation ecosystem by striking a balance between promoting innovation and meeting the needs of patients who rely on lifesaving therapies, like those in development to treat COVID-19. America’s biopharmaceutical companies are 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: Intellectual Property, IP Explained, Coronavirus

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