Patent Pending

  • by: |
  • 11/28/2007
As any medical scientist will tell you, there are few "Eureka!" moments in health research. Progress comes step-by-step, one incremental innovation at a time. Companies more often profit by improving existing chemicals and making processes more efficient than by revolutionizing the whole field with new products. And even the smallest innovations are made only after large amounts of very expensive research.

How distressing, then, that the U.S. Senate has taken up a bill that would pretty much decimate patents as we know them. The Patent Reform Act of 2007, a version of which has already passed the House, would require every patent application to be published on the Internet only 18 months after filing.

Considering the years of research underlying most medical innovations, it is madness to require pharmaceutical companies to reveal their secrets so early. It seems even more unfair when you consider that it often takes in excess of 36 months after filing a patent to actually have it approved. This means that competitors and criminals will have a window of at least 18 months to replicate new drugs and medical research.

Here’s the rest of the story …

Our strong patent law is a major reason why many pharmaceutical companies are still based here, instead of, say, Canada, where laws are weaker. If the Senate passes the Patent Reform Act of 2007, some companies might pack up and leave. Or, more worryingly, they might simply halt research on what could be tomorrow's life-saving cures.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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