This pieces was written by Fred Roeder and originally published by the European Conservatives and Reformist Group.
From January 1st, 2020 for the first time in human history, there will be more people over the age of 64 than under the age of 5. This is mainly thanks to innovations in health, food, and biosciences. Consumers are the main benefactors of such innovation in society. Innovation and scientific breakthroughs provide the best and most sustainable solutions to the challenges that humanity faces, be it ecological or epidemiological problems. It is new technologies and innovative medical solutions that will help to tackle these challenges. And while consumers benefit from these and hence enjoy longer and better lives, more prosperity, and yet more choice on what to buy and what to consume, more voices are clamouring and advocating for policies that might endanger future scientific progress.
Intellectual property rights are too often seen as an abstract concept that don’t fit into the worries of an average consumer, or as we will continue calling them from hereon, patients. The misconception that intellectual property such as patents only help large corporations enables the adoption of harmful anti-innovation policies. Innovators and investors in research and development must be able to rely on the protection of intellectual property. While opponents seeking to relax or even abolish intellectual property rights in the European Union are correct that, in the very short term, it may lead to more accessibility of existing technologies, we must keep in mind that this comes at the expense of future innovations. Without safeguarding intellectual property, we are likely to end up in a technological stalemate where humanity stops progressing. Patients who may one day be diagnosed with incurable diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, or HIV/AIDS should benefit from the chance that a cure will become available, and protecting IP is the only way to give them that chance. This policy paper analyses the current state of innovation in Europe and around the world and identifies the main drivers for continuous progress in innovation.
The recent policy note assess current attitudes towards intellectual property rights in Europe, and makes the consumer case for strong intellectual property rights. If the following policy recommendations are followed by the European Commission and the European Parliament patients and consumers in Europe will be able to look into a more promising future:
Ensuring the EU updates and maintains a world-class approval system of medicines that transparently communicates to patients and the public which drugs are available on the market and which will be available in the future.
Patient-friendly transparency and open government are needed in many countries that still fail to have an easy database for patients to access that lists all approved drugs and drugs that are currently undergoing market authorization in the respective country. An example is the U.S. FDA’s database. Patients deserve better and complimentary access to such information. This information can also help practitioners to design better treatment plans.
Safeguarding Intellectual Property Rights within the European Union and globally through the EU’s trade policy. Strong IP rights are necessary in order to foster innovation in Europe and allow for much needed scientific breakthroughs to take place, in order to cure diseases we still struggle to cure.
A digital health infrastructure as part of the Digital Single Market that allows interoperability among eHealth systems and does not stifle the use of necessary data for medical research.
We need innovators innovations that are be able to truly tackle problems such as (yet) incurable diseases, fluctuations in global food supply, and coping with the potential effects of changes in local and world climate. Innovative breakthroughs are the only true method to help humanity overcome challenges without having to reduce the standard of living of everyday people. European Union and its member states need to make it a top priority to provide a policy framework that fosters innovation as much as possible. Intellectual property is a necessary foundation for the ability of a society to foster innovation.
Fred Roeder also gave the European Scientist an interview on the topic of the European medication market earlier this year.
This post is also available in: DE (DE)