Opinion: Asia’s Pharma Investment Shows the Benefit of Patent Protection
Next month in New York the United Nations will launch its long-awaited High Level Report on access to medicines. The U.N. hopes this will resolve the debate around intellectual property rights and access to medicines.
Leaked versions of the report suggest that this will be a radical assault on the international intellectual-property (IP) system that has been governed since the mid-1990s by the World Trade Organization’s agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips). It could mean that patents for medicines will be only sporadically granted and enforced in middle- and lower-income countries, licensing will be automatically compulsory, and the current market-based system of drug development will be gradually replaced by a government-led system.
Such ideas may be popular in the rarefied worlds of academia and public-health activism, for which Trips-led IP protections for medicines are an affront. But in China and India, the world’s two biggest middle-income countries, Trips has stimulated a nascent boom in medicine innovation. The new U.N. report threatens to derail this crucial development.
- Health Care