WASHINGTON—The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the top-ranked U.S. science and tech policy think tank, today released the following statement from Stephen Ezell, vice president for global innovation policy, regarding the release of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines report:
From restrictions on the ability to patent certain medicines to expanding the use of compulsory licenses, the UN report is rife with policy recommendations that will have the exact opposite impact of what the authors intend. These tremendously regressive ideas will result in less access to medicines for citizens in the developing and developed world alike because they wrongly focus on intellectual property rights as the core barrier to access. In reality, IP rights are what allows one generation of biomedical innovation to fund investment in the next, creating a virtuous cycle of life-sciences innovation that provides life-saving drugs for citizens worldwide.
Furthermore, the recommendations favor the interests of the present over those of citizens in the future. We must be deeply concerned with continuing to invest to find solutions to diseases and conditions which remain unsolved by medical science. Doing so requires preserving sufficient incentives to invest in biomedical research. Otherwise, the world will be left with the stock of drugs we have today, and our children will end up no better off than we are.
As ITIF has previously written, if the UN panel wants to promote the discovery and diffusion of life-saving and life-improving medicines, it should instead recognize the fundamental role IP plays in the discovery of new medicines; the damage that price controls do to the medical discovery process; the need to invest more in both biomedical research and public health systems; and the need to reduce tariffs and taxes on biopharmaceutical products. ITIF looks forward to continued conversations with stakeholders to identify policies that can genuinely reduce real barriers to access to medicines without compromising a life-sciences innovation ecosystem that will be indispensable if cures of the future are to be found.
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