June 10, 2019

Constant Curiosity Inspires Medical Innovation


We live in an era of unprecedented innovation. Across the United States and the world, the brightest minds are transforming our lives through groundbreaking advances in medicine, technology, agriculture, and beyond, and nowhere more so than in the bio-pharmaceutical industry. New medical advances are eradicating diseases and prolonging global life expectancy. The United States leads the pack in research and development, accounting for more than half of the over 7,000 medicines currently under development worldwide.

The biotechnology and life science sectors are built on the foundation of innovation, so it’s fitting that this week over 16,000 biotechnology and pharmaceutical leaders will gather in Philadelphia for this year’s BIO International Convention (BIO) to highlight the tremendous work being done across the healthcare, agriculture, industrial, and environmental biotechnology fields.

And while the importance of intellectual property is well known among the scientific community, the public at-large may not immediately recognize that it’s a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to advances in biotech and medicine. The city of Brotherly Love, the tri-state area, and international economies all rely on intellectual property frameworks to create robust environments for innovation through research and development.

Currently, it takes roughly 10 years with average costs of $2.6 billion to bring a single new medicine to market, which itself is a feat considering that 90% of the promising therapies entering clinical trials never make it to market at all. And shockingly, most bio-pharmaceutical research and development start-ups can go up to 20 years without a profit. With such high stakes, companies rely on strong intellectual property regulations and policies to secure investments in early-stage R&D. It’s the only way to enable a return on the massive investments being made to develop these life-saving medicines and medical devices and fund the next generation of life-saving breakthroughs.

But, time and time again we have seen medical advances hindered when intellectual property rights are undermined or artificial price controls are put into effect. Currently, American bio-tech companies lose money and a return on their investment when they have to lower the cost of a medicine that they spent billions developing in order to meet arbitrary price rules set by foreign governments.

This is why we launched the Fair Value for Innovation campaign. The initiative aims to highlight stories of innovation – from ideation all the way to production and market launch – and encourage policymakers to put the right IP protections in place to foster continued innovation through shared research, partnerships, and programs. Our objective is to advance globally a shared purpose of mutual investment in sustainable innovation.  American patients and taxpayers shouldn’t shoulder the whole burden.

And the benefits of intellectual property don’t stop there. Not only does it safeguard priceless medical and biotech breakthroughs, it’s a large driver of economic growth. Pennsylvania alone boasts over 2.5 million jobs supported by intellectual property, contributing $269.1 billion to the economy. And the research and development investment stands at an impressive $14.6 billion across private, federal, and state funded programs in the state. Pennsylvania’s example is an important contributor to the intellectual property-driven knowledge economy that is leading growth in the U.S. and abroad. Increasingly, every industry relies on intellectual property rights in some form – from start-ups, to small businesses, to large corporate employers.

This year’s BIO Conference is a reminder of the importance of intellectual property to an industry that is working to improve lives around the world. Innovation flourishes under the principles of fair access, value, and safeguarding unique creations. Our research and development capabilities will only expand if we continue to strengthen creator’s rights in a global marketplace. The next medical breakthrough depends on it.

Patrick Kilbride is Senior Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

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