[Ip-health] Put the patents at risk, not the patients

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Fri May 29 07:42:04 PDT 2015


The TPP, following a plethora of other trade agreements involving the
United States, the European Union and Japan as trading partners, seeks to
expand and extend drug monopolies, by requiring lower standards for the
grant of patents, extensions of patent terms, exclusive rights in test
data, among other measures. These proposals and polices are designed to
have the predictable effect of making drug prices higher.

Governments and private reimbursement entities (including employer managed
plans, and private insurance plans) respond to higher prices by restricting
access, and placing higher financial burdens on patients and families.
Access can be restricted in a variety of ways, such as through price
sensitive formularies, narrow approved uses, and higher patient
co-payments, or even a complete unwillingness to reimburse the product at
all (such as for the effective breast cancer drug T-DM1 in Northern
Ireland, Wales and Scotland).

In our view, policy needs a reboot. Put the patents at risk, not the
patients. When prices are too high, use compulsory licenses to end
monopolies. Make the expensive drugs less expensive, don't use the patients
as hostages.
And, if people think lower prices lead to lower R&D investments, and are
concerned about this, there are plenty of options that don't put patients
at risk. Governments can mandate higher R&D investments or contributions to
R&D funds from companies selling drugs (as DHHS did with cisplatin sales),
increase government R&D spending, or implement full delinkage of R&D costs
from drug prices. All of these provide mechanisms to enhance R&D spending
without putting at risk the patient's access to a useful drug or vaccine.

In 2015, it should not be so so hard to tell patent owners they will lose a
monopoly, or so easy to tell patients a drug is not reimbursed.


James Love.  Knowledge Ecology International
KEI DC tel: +1.202.332.2670, US Mobile: +1.202.361.3040, Geneva Mobile:
+41.76.413.6584, twitter.com/jamie_love

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