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U.N. Should Protect Intellectual Property Rights To Spur Innovation

Washington Examiner: The U.N. can boost global health by simply protecting IP rights
Philip Thompson, policy analyst for intellectual property and international trade with the Property Rights Alliance

“…Member states writing [the U.N. Political Declaration to End Tuberculosis] refused to accept U.S. language affirming intellectual property rights as an important incentive to develop new health innovations. Instead, the latest draft refers to a nonbinding World Trade Organization declaration that says ‘intellectual property rights should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of the right of Member States to protect public health.’ … There is no debate. Intellectual property rights are an incentive to innovate, by definition. Patents are a temporary monopoly granted and protected by governments so that innovators, like U.S. pharmaceutical companies, … will invest time and money knowing they will be able to own the fruits of their labor. And it works. … The solution to the health crisis has never been to undermine incentives to innovate. Decreasing health costs and future medical breakthroughs will always rely on intellectual property rights to fuel the fire of invention. If WHO wants an enthusiastic global partner, it should affirm what is already obvious: IP rights are an incentive to innovate” (9/25).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.