Intellectual Property Rights Are Crucial to Protect Global Patient Health

Intellectual Property Rights Are Crucial to Protect Global Patient Health

02.24.14 | By Jay Taylor

Today, I had the opportunity to offer PhRMA’s perspective on inadequate intellectual property (IP) rights and other major trade barriers around the world during the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) public hearing in the 2014 Special 301 Review process. USTR’s annual Special 301 Report identifies countries that fail to protect IP rights or otherwise deny fair market access to American innovators.

America’s biopharmaceutical sector is a global leader in medical research and is constantly creating new, life-saving treatments for the world’s patients. Our member companies are also critical to the U.S. economy, as they support roughly 3.4 million jobs and their products contribute to better health outcomes. Our success in helping patients lead longer, healthier lives is due in large part to the U.S.’s robust IP laws, which protect the high-risk, resource-intensive endeavors needed to discover the next medical breakthrough.

Recently however, our industry’s ability to continue investing in new and groundbreaking R&D is being threatened by some of our key trading partners who do not fully realize the importance of IP as the backbone of medical research that ensures the availability of new treatments. Two countries of particular note – India and Canada – have in place policies that significantly harm the U.S. research-based biopharmaceutical industry. PhRMA has requested that India be designated a Priority Foreign Country, necessitating the highest level of U.S. engagement and scrutiny. Despite the efforts of the U.S. Government to address concerns about India’s discriminatory IP, regulatory, and trade policies over the past two years, the situation in India continues to deteriorate for our industry and other innovative U.S. industries. In Canada, biopharmaceutical innovators continue to face significant difficulty in obtaining and enforcing patents due to, among other things, Canada’s judicial “promise doctrine” that creates a heightened patentability requirement for showing utility and which is discriminatorily applied to biopharmaceutical products.

Our companies are developing almost 400 treatments for neglected diseases such as hepatitis c, malaria, and tuberculosis, all of which plague developing nations, but depend on IP rights to make these efforts possible. Strong enforcement efforts are also critical to protect patients from counterfeit drugs.

Our government must continue to strongly engage our trading partners on IP protection and make it a cornerstone of the U.S. trade agenda.  For the sake of the U.S. economy and the future of biomedical innovation, we cannot afford to let our trading partners maintain policies that discourage our industry’s efforts to advance global health.



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