By most accounts, patients in the United States and across the globe are in the midst of a new era of medical discovery, one in which new treatments and cures for costly diseases will become increasingly commonplace.
As ITIF noted in a recent report, our nation has benefited from public policies that support innovation and discovery, including strong intellectual property (IP) protections, limits on price controls for innovative medicines, data protections for biologic drugs, and strong government research and development expenditures on health care.
Unfortunately, these core fundamentals are being set aside by proponents of expanding “march-in” rights to address concerns about the price of drugs.
“March-in” rights were included as a privilege for the government under the Bayh-Dole Act, which was enacted with bipartisan support in 1980 to address intellectual property created (at least in part) from government-funded research. The law has played a significant role in driving impactful medical discovery and life-sciences innovation by allowing academic and other research institutions to patent inventions created by federally funded research and exclusively license them to industry for further development and commercialization. As The Economist has written about Bayh-Dole, it
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Public-private R&D partnerships spur innovation by helping private companies tap into the research capabilities of universities. This allows companies to undertake R&D efforts that would otherwise be too risky or costly for them to conduct on their own, and it allows universities to gain focused resources that help advance various fields of science.
The National Science Foundation’s Industry & University Cooperation Research Program (I/UCRC) is one such partnership. With 262 active projects, the I/UCRC produces substantial cost savings while driving innovation. In fact, when private companies conducted R&D projects through the I/UCRC partnership rather than in-house, they saved an average of $700,000 per project in 2014—up from $500,000 in 2012—thereby freeing up resources to be put to other, more effective uses.
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Every April 26, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) celebrates World Intellectual Property Day to promote discussion of the role of intellectual property (IP) in encouraging innovation and creativity. Given the increasing tempest over the role of IP in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, the day provides an important reminder about the foundational role that IP plays in supporting innovation. IP is more important than ever as it is embodied in many economic sectors, especially across the digital economy, which means it affects not only innovation, but also trade, competition, taxes, and other areas of public policy and society. According to the OECD, investment in IP-protected capital is growing faster than investment in tangible capital.
To analyze this critical relationship between IP protection and innovation, ITIF compared the strength of IP laws and the effectiveness of anti-counterfeiting laws based on data from the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2015-16 and creative output scores from the Global Innovation Index 2015, a report from Cornell University, INSEAD, and WIPO. The Global Innovation Index applies three distinct measures of creativity in an economy that taken together provide a measure
Rising health-care costs present a large burden to future Americans. Telehealth and e-commerce can keep rising health-care costs in check and increase the quality of care and the patient experience.
Transitioning towards telehealth and more health-related e-commerce presents a regulatory challenge. There are health services that should, of course, be provided in person, while others can be provided remotely with limited risk to the patient. One clear area is in the contact lens market. Once an optometrist issues a prescription, consumers can easily judge for themselves where to buy contact lenses. There are no obvious health concerns or risks for individuals from purchasing contacts from a licensed seller rather than from an optometrist. Brands are relatively static, and consumers have constant but predictable demand for the number of contacts they buy. Furthermore, contacts are easy to ship. In fact, it’s hard to think of a health-related industry more primed to turn e-commerce into cost savings for consumers than the contact industry.
However, online sales of contact lenses in the United States lag behind those of several other countries. Online sales represent 18 percent of U.S. sales, but 25 percent
When Russia joined the World Trade Organization in 2012, observers hoped it signaled the start of a process that would bring Russia closer into the rules-based trading system that the WTO oversees and the market-based economic principles that underpin it. But four years on, it has become increasingly clear this has not happened. In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin has turned away from the WTO to pursue mercantilist and protectionist policies as part of misguided and costly industrial development strategies.
Two clear examples from the past year were a compulsory data localization policy that forces digital service providers to store data on Russian citizens inside the country’s borders and a discriminatory industrial policy that favored domestic pharmaceutical and medical device producers over imports. These two policies earned Russia the dubious distinction of being one of the few countries with more than one listing on the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s list of the top 10 worst innovation mercantilist policies of 2015.
Russia’s new Data Localization Law acts as a barrier to cross-border data flows as it prevents many data-intensive firms—whether in social media, financial, medical, or other service sectors—from