IP PACT: Using Intellectual Property to Benefit Patients and Society


More than 25 biopharmaceutical companies recently launched the IP PACT – IP Principles for Advancing Cures and Therapies – with the objective of explaining how patient and societal interest are at the core of their approach to intellectual property, and how they intend to maintain this focus as they invent and develop new innovations to advance the field of medicine.

Ideas Matter interviewed Andrew Jenner, the Director-General of the pharma industry association INTERPAT which is hosting the IP PACT initiative, and Corey Salsberg, Vice President and Global Head of IP Affairs for Novartis, in a recent feature video about IP PACT here.  Some of the IP PACT-related issues discussed in the video are as follows:

What is IP PACT?

Salsberg summarises the aim of IP PACT as follows: “The IP PACT aims to explain to society how we use the IP system every single day to advance breakthrough medical innovations and to help us tackle some of the world's most pressing healthcare challenges for the benefits of patients and society.”

How does intellectual property promote medical innovations?

IP promotes innovation by letting experts and innovators do what they do best—in taking risks in developing new medicines, financing their research, and promoting information exchange and collaboration, says Salsberg.  Jenner explains that these benefits of IP have helped the industry develop COVID vaccines in record time: “This is unprecedented success due to the amount of collaboration that we've seen, both between the public and the private sector, using each other's expertise and technology for gain for society.”

How does IP benefit patients and society?

Salsberg outlines several ways in which IP produces such benefits: Helping to enable the development of new medicines, giving more patient choice among competing medicines and other medical solutions, driving generics and biosimilar drugs when patents finish their limited terms, and ultimately giving people healthier, happier, longer, and more productive lives.

Would compulsory licensing get COVID vaccines out more widely? 

No, say Salsberg and Jenner.  “Not only would it not help, it would actually hurt and it would slow and impede access while threatening our ability to address this pandemic and the next,” says Salsberg. 

“The real barriers are things that have nothing to do with this kind of IP.  It's things like shortage of raw materials. It's things like limited know-how, a finite number of factories around the world that actually have the ability to work with such a new form of technology. And it's also just good old-fashioned time. It takes time to actually produce things and get them out there.” 

Rather than compulsory licensing, which has rarely been used for any reason, “We've always said that negotiated solutions are always far more easy to deploy in practice and much more workable,” says Jenner.

How will IP PACT get the message out?

IP issues are complicated, says Jenner, but the participants expect that IP PACT will help build a mutually beneficial platform of discussion and a better understanding of how these issues work.  “Our hope,” says Salsberg, “is that the IP PACT will help to connect some of these dots for people and impress the why behind it all, as well as explain some of the how about the way that we use IP for the benefit of patients and society.”

For more information

To see the Ideas Matter feature video, see here.  To see the IP PACT principles in full, see here.  For more information about the IP PACT and to view the launch event video, see here.