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Innovation Over Time: Three Ways IP Has Helped Improve Patients' Lives

Innovation in medicine continues to revolutionize patient care, enabling advancements in diagnosis, treatment and overall health outcomes. The driving engine of this innovation is robust intellectual property (IP) rights, which provide innovators the incentives and protections necessary for bringing groundbreaking and essential technologies to market. Supported by IP, companies have developed lifesaving products to improve patients’ quality of life. Here are just a few examples that demonstrate the depth and breadth of what’s possible through innovation.


IP Incentivizes Continual Improvement in Support of Patient Health

One recent example of the transformative power of innovation is the development and use of mRNA vaccine technology. Strong IP protections incentivized companies to both build off previous innovation and invest in new research and development (R&D), leading to the rapid development of effective mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. The groundbreaking nature of mRNA vaccines enabled a swift response to the coronavirus pandemic; and the rapid scale-up of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine development and deployment was responsible for saving countless lives across the globe. What’s more, researchers are now evaluating how the same technology can be used to combat other difficult diseases, like certain cancers. IP protections are critically important in advancing medical technologies that enhance the quality of care and improve patient outcomes.


IP Incentivizes Investment in New Technology to Improve Outcomes

Health care innovation has been instrumental in expanding access to a wide range of novel medical treatments and technologies, significantly improving patient outcomes. The development of disposable contact lenses is an illustrative example. At the time of their development, these lenses represented a groundbreaking solution for vision correction, offering patients increased convenience and hygiene compared with traditional contact lenses. By granting exclusive rights to innovators, IP protections incentivized investment in R&D and production, leading to the increased availability and affordability of disposable contact lenses.


IP Helps Innovation Get to Patients More Quickly

The large-scale production of penicillin during World War II is an important example of how IP protections promote broad access to medical treatments, by providing incentives for companies to invest in their manufacturing and production processes. During the war, penicillin emerged as a crucial antibiotic to treat bacterial infections. However, its initial production was limited and unable to meet the soaring demand. The development of innovative fermentation-based production methods – protected and incentivized by strong IP rights – significantly increased the yield of penicillin. The availability of this life-saving treatment was significantly expanded due to the IP protections that incentivized companies to make substantial investment in manufacturing processes. 


These are just a few examples of how robust IP protections create an ideal environment for companies to invest in new ideas, products and processes. From contact lenses to COVID-19 vaccines, these treatments and technologies benefit patients by improving care and access to novel and essential medical innovations alike and serve as a reminder of the value and impact of IP on daily lives.

Supported by IP, companies have developed lifesaving products to improve patients’ quality of life.

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