Protecting IP: Balancing Current and Future Interests

Protecting IP: Balancing Current and Future Interests

05.22.13 | By Chip Davis

With the 17th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations taking place in Lima, Peru, the importance of strong U.S. trade and innovation policy is once again front and center. When it comes to protecting intellectual property, it’s critical that negotiators keep in mind the far-reaching implications of pro-IP measures on our economy, health and well being, and society overall.

In emerging markets like Peru, protecting intellectual property is often misunderstood and inaccurately perceived as a barrier to access to medicines. However, biopharmaceutical companies are continually working to deliver innovative treatments that address the world’s most devastating diseases while also advancing life-saving innovation. One example – the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases – is dedicated to finding new medicines to treat neglected, infectious diseases. In countries where Dengue fever, Tuberculosis and Malaria are endemic, Novartis makes treatments readily available to patients, forgoing profit.

Patients benefit from innovation that otherwise wouldn’t exist due to costly and long-term periods of research and development (in some cases requiring a decade or more).  This investment is possible because of intellectual property protection. Also, once intellectual property protections are in place, we must make a point to help patients access this innovation. To this end, over the past decade, innovative biopharmaceutical companies provided more than $9.2 billion in direct assistance to health care for emerging nations, including donations of medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and equipment, as well as other materials and labor.

The U.S. government must embrace a strong trade agenda directly tied to this broader goal. Patients and the U.S. workforce alike depend on it, which highlights the urgency of working with other nations to ensure that strong IP policies are prioritized. As TPP negotiators discuss these and other issues, let’s all make a point to pursue this balance and ensure that we continue to lay the groundwork for the next generation of life-saving innovations.

We look forward to continuing this dialogue, and encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas below.

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