The Role of Intellectual Property in the Biopharmaceutical Sector

That is the title of an FTI White Paper published this year where I was a co-author alongside Antoine Mialhe, Sabiha Quddus, Anne-Sophie Deman, Suhail Thahir and Agnes Sipiczki.

The role of Intellectual property (IP) in the development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics became a central tenant in discussions on how to ensure access to medical countermeasures globally. In response to criticisms around vaccine manufacturing and scale-up, some policymakers have suggested that overriding IP rights are one way to expedite COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution. In contrast, others claim that production and distribution would be further delayed without solid IP protections. In the context of this fast-moving political debate, FTI Consulting supported INTERPAT, a non-profit biopharmaceutical consortium, and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) in developing a White Paper and peer-reviewed article on the role of IP in the biopharmaceutical sector. The white paper developed by FTI’s team comes at a crucial time and provides concrete evidence that can inform European and global political debates on IP, COVID-19, and international trade.

Key takeaways from the white paper include:

Intellectual property plays an enabling role in many industries, and it is the lifeline of the biopharmaceutical industryIntellectual property protection is the cornerstone of drug discovery and development and stimulates an innovative environment in the life sciences sector Intellectual property protection fosters a culture of collaboration in the health sector, which played an instrumental role in the record-breaking pace of COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutics development Robust intellectual property protection leads to considerable long-term benefits for patients, employees and broader society. Conversely, a reduction in intellectual property protections would have significant negative impact on the life sciences sector investments in research and development and by extension, on societyThe global intellectual property system has created an environment conducive to the development of medical technological advancements, fostering trust needed for manufacturing scale-up

Of particular interest from the health economics side:

To model the impact of a potential change in the current intellectual property regime, our study assesses what the impact of overriding intellectual property rights for 10% of drugs would be. We find that:

* Under this scenario, the long-term loss in societal welfare would be worth USD 214.5 billion per year on average, equivalent to 0.2% of global GDP.

* Additionally, patients would bear 70% of the harm due to fewer new drugs being developed in the future to treat existing diseases

You can read the whole report here or an Executive Summary here.