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May 26, 2006

Just one more example of how IP is critical to innovation

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Interesting story in the New Zealand news about the importance of IP protection to the development of a promising new drug for Parkinson's Disease.

According to the researchers:

Worldwide, many highly promising medical discoveries failed to make even the earliest stages of this transition, because the patent protection and commercial development processes were not in place from the outset . . .

Essentially, this method of protecting university research and then allowing it to be transferred to a commercial entity is the same thing that was made possible in the United States by the Bayh-Dole Act, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

It's just painfully obvious that intellectual property protection incentivizes innovation. And not just new widgets, but possibly revolutionary drugs like treatments for major diseases like Parkinson's. It's also obvious from this example that the earlier and clearer that the IP protection is obtained, the stronger the confidence that researchers and commercial entities will have in its development.

I wonder what all the anti-IP activists have to say about this? I'm sure I'll find out.

The activists are constantly complaining that strong patent protection somehow has resulted in drug companies not bothering with the really important molecules, and instead spending all their time making tiny, cosmetic alterations to lifestyle drugs to treat hair loss, erectile dysfunction, and toenail fungus. But here we are talking about Parkinson's Disease, not a lifestyle drug. This isn't toenail fungus.

The activists claim that the only way to make sure that drug research is focused on the really important targets is to take the decision-making out the hands of those evil corporate types and put it in the hands of all-knowing, all-loving, benevolent government bureacracies, which would of course be guided by input from activist NGOs.

What system could possibly be better than a system where free people voluntarily put their own capital at risk to develop new products that cure diseases and mitigate pain and suffering? A system where everyone is taxed against their will to provide the capital for R&D, and then government bureaucrats make the decisions about which molecules have potential and which do not?


I have a donkey out in the pasture. I can seem him through the window as I type this. He isn't flying, and I don't think he has much realistic aerial potential. But he has more chance of aerial elevation than the R&D Treaty does.

Meanwhile, the property-rights system of innovation is working RIGHT NOW. But the activists want to undo it.

The real point here is that the activists who are constantly railing against IP protection, especially in drug development, are really driven by anti-capitalism. The reason they are opposed to a system that obviously works, and want to replace it with something that has never been tried or tested, is because they have an explicit assumption that markets cannot be trusted with the really important things like inventing medicines, and that the best way to accomplish things is through government power, guided by inputs from activists in the form of NGOs.

How convenient for them.

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