Biotech Convention Pays Homage To IP, Pledges To Increase Access To Medicine 04/05/2010 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You also have the opportunity to offer additional support to your subscription, or to donate. Intellectual property rights and access to medicines were on the agenda at the first day of a biotechnology industry group’s annual convention yesterday. The group held a panel on IP rights and also released a policy statement on access to medicine in developing countries. The director of the US Patent and Trademark Office commented positively on the initiative. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)’s annual convention is taking place in Chicago from 3-6 June. BIO is an industry advocacy group claiming some 1,200 members worldwide. USPTO Director David Kappos, who is also the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, spoke at a session entitled “Leveraging IP to Spur Global Biotechnology Innovation, Investments and Jobs.” The session was aimed at examining the role of IP systems in biotech investment and how some countries are leveraging their patent policies to encourage economic growth, according to the BIO website. BIO also released a policy statement [pdf] yesterday on access to medicine in developing countries. The statement, entitled Options for Increasing Access to Medicines in the Developing World, calls on its members to consider several options to address the issue of access to medicine while at the same time protecting strong intellectual property rights. Among those options are licensing practices. The statement encourages BIO members, when negotiating licensing agreement with universities, non-profit entities, or commercial partners, to “explore with their partners opportunities to expand access to resulting medicines in the developing world.” Also, “while researching and developing products, work to identify compounds or technologies that can have useful applications in the developing world.” Companies may also consider pooling their IP rights in order to facilitate research and development of useful products or applications for the developing world, the statement said. Partnerships were also strongly encouraged, in particular public-private partnerships with governmental or non-governmental organisations. The needs of people living in developing countries should be taken into account when doing clinical trials, the statement said. The price barrier is not the only one to address, according to BIO. There also are issues such as lack of adequate manufacturing, delivery and public health infrastructure, trade and tariff barriers, regulatory obstacles, and lack of market incentives. The statement encouraged members to explore tiered-pricing approaches with “special humanitarian pricing,” as well as licensing to generic companies in certain countries. “We believe government can, and should, play a role in providing incentives to encourage humanitarian commitments to treating disease in impoverished parts of the world,” said Kappos, according to prepared remarks, adding that “one mechanism we are currently discussing with various other government health agencies is the possibility of an annual award to companies that have done breakthrough research and development in a neglected disease area.” Kappos also said he was looking to BIO members to provide the USPTO with ideas on the types of incentives that would be useful either for research on neglected diseases or for “exemplary humanitarian licensing.” He cited an example of the Priority Review Voucher of the Food and Drug Administration. The voucher is transferable and is “awarded to a company that secures approval for a product that treats of prevents a neglected disease,” he said. It entitles its bearer to priority review for future new drug application. World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Francis Gurry also spoke at the session. Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Biotech Convention Pays Homage To IP, Pledges To Increase Access To Medicine" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.