A new website popped up recently that is an attempt to serve as a global resource for dialogue on intellectual property rights and its role in advancing research and innovation.
The site, called Essential Innovation, is an online forum that will feature commentary and analysis on the importance of continued innovation, and the potential consequences a decline in intellectual property rights will have on global public health. This forum demonstrates cooperation to protect innovation from groups spread around the world, joining academic thought leaders, as well as scientists, researchers, doctors and inventors who create important advances in products and services.
The group believes that there has been an increase in attacks on intellectual property (IP) by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and governments. In a number of countries, notably Thailand and Brazil, recognized IP protections for life-saving medicines are being disregarded under the guise of promoting greater access. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) in November will also consider policy guidelines that significantly weaken IP protections on pharmaceuticals.
According to the group:
Patients around the world are in desperate need of new therapies to treat a variety of conditions. We need strong IP protection to encourage Brazil’s creative class, and the creative classes in countries around the world, to go for it and develop the next line of life-saving medicine.
This is an all-volunteer effort to provide a resource for anyone –media, NGOs, government officials, academics –looking for information from the scientists, researchers and inventors who are actually developing new medicine around the world. The Internet is littered with biased opinions about innovation from a small group of activists who have never done anything to advance science to save lives. This is most apparent in the claims from MSF, Oxfam and others that the patent system does not produce innovation. Nothing could be more patently absurd.
These issues are never as black and white as they seem — especially not as simple as the poll on the site puts it when it asks “Should one steal a medicine to extend a life?” and provides only a yes or no answer. This issue, like all of life, is complicated and often can only be answered with an “It depends.”