United Nations bureaucrats want to mess with Texas.
The UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines recently recommended weakening intellectual property protections that drive and sustain biopharmaceutical innovation. Panelists hope their proposals will make it easier for foreign companies to create knock-offs of treatments researched, developed, and manufactured in America and distribute them around the world.
The Panel's misplaced focus on intellectual property resulted in a series of damaging recommendations that would suffocate medical innovation and stunt economic growth in Texas and across the nation -- all without helping patients one bit. Patents and other intellectual property protections are not barriers to access to medicines. The vast majority of treatments on the World Health Organization's Essential Medicines List are no longer protected by patents, yet millions of people around the world do not have access to them.
Innovation is expensive and risky. Bringing a new drug to market takes an average of a decade and costs roughly $2.6 billion. Additionally, only one out of every 5,000 promising compounds makes it out of the lab and through clinical trials to receive FDA approval. And just twenty percent of approved drugs ever turn a profit.
Strong IP protections allow inventors to profit from their rare successes by restricting copies for a limited amount of time. That's essential, especially given that these companies need to earn back not just the development costs of the successful drug, but of all the ones that failed too.
Weakening IP rights would make it all but impossible for a company to recoup these losses. As a result, it would destroy the incentive to invest. That means fewer new medicines and treatments. The patent critics are concerned about how we allocate medcines, but you can't allocate something that hasn't been invented.
Weaker patents means less incentive to invest, and in the pharmaceutical world, that means less investment in research.
Cuts in research spending would devastate patients -- and the Texas economy. Texas has hosted more than 8,000 clinical trials in recent years. The Lone Star biopharmaceutical industry supports roughly 194,000 jobs. Indeed, the average state biopharmaceutical employee contributes about $614,800 to Texas' economy per year -- three times higher than the average non-biopharmaceutical worker's contribution.
Texas' biopharmaceutical sector generates $52 billion in economy activity.
If implemented, the UN High-Level Panel's recommendations would wipe out Texas jobs and prevent the development of many new medicines. That'd guarantee that patients around the globe have even less access to lifesaving treatments.