Sunday, April 20, 2008

University patent managers versus developing countries

From James Love via the Huffington Post blog: University patent managers versus developing countries
"Officials charged with managing patent portfolios in U.S. universities have found a new cause. In addition to opposing patent reform in the US Congress, they are opposing proposals being discussed in the World Health Organization that are aimed at increasing R&D for neglected diseases and other global health needs, and expanding access to new medicines in developing countries.

On April 16, the Association of University Technology Mangers (AUTM) asked its members to "Sign the Institute for Policy Innovation's Open Letter to the World Health Organization. . . in advance of the WHO's Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property...

The letter is part of a PR campaign by the pharmaceutical industry to stop the introduction of new models for supporting R&D for new medicines, or more transparency of the system...

One can understand why big pharma does not want a debate on new models for financing innovation -- if prizes work for Chagas disease or TB diagnostics, maybe the idea will spread to more lucrative markets. For lots of the wrong reasons, big pharma wants to avoid a system that links their rewards to actual impacts on health outcomes, and which enables generic competition of products.

But why would University Technology Managers side with big pharma in the WHO debates? Do they really think the current system is working well in developing countries?"

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