Ask an Expert

Ask an Expert: Protecting Biopharmaceutical Innovation is Critical to Global Health

This is the next installment of the IP Progress “Ask an Expert” series, highlighting the state of innovation and intellectual property in specific markets around the world through insights from our partner organizations. Our previous interviews have featured IP Progress partners Property Rights Alliance and Institute for Competitiveness.

IP Progress recently interviewed Chris Moore, Deputy Vice President of International Advocacy at Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)—an association that represents leading innovative biopharmaceutical research companies across the United States and abroad.

We asked about the role intellectual property (IP) plays in advancing innovative treatments and cures. It’s a topic that has become all the more critical as the world continues to grapple with COVID-19 and as innovators race to find treatments and vaccines to address the pandemic. 

With more than 20 years of experience working in trade and intellectual property policy, Moore offered insights on the importance of IP protection in today’s biopharmaceutical space. “Effective protection of patents and other intellectual property fosters the innovation necessary to address global health challenges,” Moore said. ”As we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever. Humanity’s best bet to overcome an adversary like this is to collaborate and discover effective vaccines and treatments,” Moore added. He went on to explain that effective IP protections ensure that there is continued progress to beat COVID-19.

Moore underscored that innovation can take many forms. It might be the development of an entirely novel treatment. Or it could involve developing new applications for existing medicines that transform how we prevent or treat a disease. But central to any progress in the biopharmaceutical space, Moore said, is “the support, protection and incentives that effective IP systems provide.” IP provides the security necessary for biopharmaceutical innovators to explore new therapeutic avenues.

“Effective protection of patents and other intellectual property fosters the innovation necessary to address global health challenges.”

And it doesn’t stop there. IP protection also opens the door for inter- and cross-industry collaboration by facilitating information-sharing and knowledge transfer. “When a crisis is this widespread and the stakes are this high, collaboration is critical,” said Moore. “It helps ensure the swiftest response [to COVID-19] when time is of the essence.”

Moore also shed light on a topic that has been recently raised: whether IP protection hinders progress toward a cure for COVID-19. On the contrary, he clarified that effective  IP protection and enforcement provides powerful incentives for innovation and gives private sector inventors the confidence they need to partner with other companies as well as the public sector.

Moore emphasized another key point: while IP protection and enforcement certainly provides a foundation for fruitful innovation, patents and other IP also establish an equitable trading environment. “Innovation is an engine of the global economy,” Moore said. “Countries can harness the power of stable, predictable IP protections to drive economic growth. That power will be crucial to helping return struggline national economies to growth once we move beyond the pandemic.”

“The importance of maintaining and supporting effective IP protection and enforcement cannot be overstated,” Moore concluded. “Especially as the battle against COVID-19 rages on, we must continue to protect the fundamental conditions biopharmaceutical innovators need to continue to quickly develop and test lifesaving treatments and vaccines.”

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