With the world confronting daunting new health challenges, the UN is emphasizing the need to achieve true universal healthcare. That’s a laudable goal worth supporting — but the same can’t be said for the UN and other global organizations frequent support for measures that jeopardize innovation by threatening to undermine legal protections for intellectual property (IP). So writes Jasson Urbach in a new op-ed for CapX, warning that these anti-IP provisions would deter drug companies from investing in developing new cures.
- The private sector has long been the main driver of innovation in medicine, Urbach notes, and that continues today. Urbach cites one example: “Novartis recently partnered with a group of academic and nonprofit organisations to develop a next-generation antimalarial drug while also strengthening clinical research capacities in Africa, the region that is most severely affected by this devastating disease.”
- However the UN, WHO and others have often attacked innovation by proposing to loosen IP protections, usually at the behest of radical activists who claim — incorrectly — that IP is preventing low- and middle-income countries from getting access to drugs.
- This is shortsighted, Urbach argues, because “incentivising new treatments and cures is likely to save money because proper treatment with medicine avoids more costly and difficult interventions such as surgery and hospitalisation.”
- Furthermore, “A narrow focus on IP rights also fails to address the real barriers to access to medicines, including sustained investment in health systems, weak health care infrastructure, inadequate training for healthcare personnel, and ongoing trade barriers.”