Boosting Pharma Innovation after TRIPS: lessons to be learned

Boosting Pharmaceutical Innovation In The Post-TRIPS Era: Real-Life Lessons for the Developing World, by Burcu Kilic (Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program), is a lovely little book which owes its origins to the author's PhD thesis, supervised by Katfriend Duncan Matthews (Queen Mary).

According to Edward Elgar Publishing:
Boosting Pharmaceutical Innovation In The Post-TRIPS Era investigates the concept of innovation and illustrates the crucial role that patent strategies play within processes of pharmaceutical innovation. Drawing on extensive country and company case studies, it identifies the key issues relevant to the revival of local pharmaceutical industries.

Based on an understanding of the post-TRIPS environment and case studies of national innovation strategies, the book specifically addresses an important question – to what extent can lessons from national experiences be transferred to current policy developments for innovation in the pharmaceutical industry in a developing country context? The book sets out a number of recommendations on how this can be achieved. It suggests that it can be done in relation to the key development objectives of promoting the technological and scientific advancement of the country, enhancing local pharmaceutical innovation capacities, adapting patent law to own local realities, providing wide access to medicines and knowledge, safeguarding public health interests, and fostering innovation.

Practitioners and policy planners within the pharmaceutical industry will deem this book invaluable as it addresses a number of practical implications for the promotion of the pharmaceutical industry. It will also be of enormous interest to students, researchers and academics specialising in intellectual property law and policy, science and technology, and the management of technology and innovation.
The heart of the book is a 49-page description and subsequent analysis and comparison of the experience of four countries -- the United States, Japan, South Korea and Israel -- followed by a 36-page in-depth study of the experiences of leading Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva. The author then projects lessons learned from these markets, together with the provisions of TRIPs (in particular those relating to the compulsory licensing of patents) into the conditions in which developing countries find themselves when seeking to boost the functionality of their own pharma sectors. The author's observation (in the context of Israel) that a consultative process between industry and IPR policymakers is a good model on which developing countries should proceed is, in this reviewer's opinion, a piece of advice that applies equally to developed countries.  In the context of the EU, he has wondered if the only thing the Commission and its policymakers want to hear from the pharma sector is the sound of it squealing with pain.

Bibliographic data: xii + 271 pages. Hardback 978 1 78254 412 8 ebook ISBN 978 1 78254 413 5. Hardback $130 (online from the publishers $117). Rupture factor: low,  Book's web page here.
Boosting Pharma Innovation after TRIPS: lessons to be learned Boosting Pharma Innovation after TRIPS: lessons to be learned Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, September 03, 2014 Rating: 5


  1. They will have to turn their hearing aids up to full sensitivity as there is little left to squeal in Europe.

  2. What is happening in India is probably most important in determining the future relationship between pharma and the developing world. India acts as a leader to the developing world (i.e. the G77 nations), and South Africa and Brazil in particular follow its lead on patent matters. Pharma have yet to realise that it needs to have good relations with such nations, so that it can find compromise solutions to the problems of 'access to medicines'. India has legislation to prevent evergreening and is awarding compulsory licences on pharma patents. Foreign pharma companies are reacting by 'fighting' back where a better response would be to try to find solutions. I suspect these times will be remembered as ones where pharma fought lots of battles it did not have to, and also failed to come up with ideas for changing the patent system to better defend its interests.

  3. One battle that I would love to see Pharma lose is the geographical price disparity wherein prices in the US subsidize markets like India.

    US Congress, are you listening to India stand up to pharma?

  4. India is a leach and a hypocrite.

    Leach: Invests nothing and copies to make personal fortunes for the few.

    Hypocrite: Most unbalanced nation for wealth and respect for humanity. A country were 'lower castes' roll around and lick the floor of leftovers of banquets for the rich.

    It's not about patents and pharma companies withholding life-saving medicines from the poor in order to maximise profit.

  5. There are numerous drugs off-patent that could be manufactured cheaply in India that would be of enormous benefit to the sick in undeveloped/developing countries. In addition, investment in basic hygiene, clean water, and food, would be of enormous benefit.

    Such investments would be a start, and unquestionably more beneficial than putting the resource into more modern, expensive-to-produce drugs, irrespective of patent status.

  6. Anonymous at 21:08,

    I am not sure I understand what point that you are trying to make.

    Are you drawing attention to the fact that India is not doing enough regarding basic necessities, or are you saying that for-profit companies some how have an obligation to first take care of undeveloped/developing countries?

  7. I am saying that current opinion place India and its generic companies on a pedestal as the saviour of the sick and the poor, whilst big pharma companies do nothing of benefit but print money.

    The reality is the opposite.

  8. Thanks - it was unclear just whom you were chastising.

    I think one aspect of your post that can serve even greater emphasis is the notion that the grant of a patent is to encourage private actors to innovate, and that if a State acts to lessen or compromise the value of that grant, then the State (and not the private actors) should "bear the brunt" of the associated bad press.

  9. States are happy to let Pharma take the flak for the poor state of health services around the world.


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