International Trade Agreements Must Protect U.S. Intellectual Property

International Trade Agreements Must Protect U.S. Intellectual Property

07.17.12 | By

I want to call attention to a recent Roll Call op-ed by Congressman Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and Ed Gerwin, a senior fellow for trade at Third Way. Writing about how increasing exports can build our national economy, they focus particularly on some of the challenges and opportunities to be found in Asia and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP), now being negotiated.

Larsen and Gerwin underscore how important exports are to creating jobs and bolstering both local and national economies. They also look at how Asian trade barriers have helped to block American exporting to the region. They call on TPP to keep those trade barriers in target as negotiations go forward.

But beyond jobs and spurring economic growth, trade barriers need to be lowered to help patients and foster more research into innovative medicines. One example is 12 years of biologic exclusivity for new medicines derived from biotechnology. Biologic exclusivity bolsters intellectual property protections and provides needed incentives for biopharma research companies to invest in new R&D, which leads to innovative new medicines. It is also law here in the U.S.

As negotiations over trade agreements like the TPP go forward, U.S negotiators must secure better access to Asian markets as well as biologic exclusivity like we've already achieved in the U.S. Indeed, all biopharma intellectual property protections in TPP, including 12 years of exclusivity, should reflect those in current U.S. law. Failure to secure these protections will undermine a critical incentive that all biopharma research companies need to pursue new technologies and new R&D. The R&D PhRMA member companies currently undertake - nearly $50 billion invested in 2011 alone - help give patients real hope that new cures and treatments will continue to come from our nation's biopharma research labs.

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