Strong patents are the lifeblood of the biotechnology industry. They are critical in ensuring a steady stream of capital to biotechnology companies developing innovative medicines, alternative energy sources and insect- and drought-resistant crops. And they are essential to the technology transfer process that leads from inventions in the lab to products on the shelves, where more than 90% of endeavors fail.
While drug pricing has remained remarkable steady for over a decade and generic prescriptions hold about 90% of the market, some still contend that patents somehow are an obstacle to patient access of life saving therapies.
Some of the most vocal complaints arise when biopharmaceutical companies research new ways of using existing drugs to treat additional diseases, or new formulations to address special patient needs. Critics often deride patents on such innovations as trivial and medically meaningless. Hans Sauer corrected this misconception in IPWatchdog wherein he says:
“…what seems trivial to some patent professionals may not be trivial to patients and physicians, who may prefer an improved once-daily drug formulation over the original 3x/day version, or pharmacies who see real benefit in stocking pharmaceuticals with extended shelf-lives compared to predecessor formulations that too often expire before they are dispensed. And patients living with rare diseases may benefit from new treatment options, even if that means using an existing drug in a new way.”