Patent News

Jul. 3, 2015

Dome: Patent “Reform” Bill Could Harm MI Patients, Economy, by Tom Watkins

This post originally appeared in Dome on July 3, 2015.

Researchers in Ann Arbor will soon begin testing a new schizophrenia treatment. That’s great news for the 84,000 Michigan residents who suffer from this disease.

By volunteering to receive this new therapy, people with schizophrenia will join 23,000 of their fellow Michiganders who participate in nearly 1,500 clinical trials statewide. Such research produces the treatments of tomorrow, improving Michigan’s health and it’s economy.

Clinical trials add half a billion dollars to Michigan’s economic output. As a whole, the state’s biopharmaceutical industry supports 74,000 jobs and contributes $18 billion to our economy every year.

But, misguided patent “reform” laws from Washington could undercut medical research that propels this economic growth and deny hope to people suffering with diseases. Congress will soon vote on the Innovation Act, which could weaken the patent system that enables companies to defend their patents and invest in costly and risky medical research.

Michigan lawmakers must protect patients and ensure a healthy research environment by rejecting this law.

Without patents, medical innovation would decrease, leaving patient needs unmet. Drug development is enormously expensive. Bringing a new medicine to market can cost over $ 2 billion. Patents give biopharmaceutical companies exclusive ownership and marketing rights to the drugs they create, offering them a chance to earn back their expenses. While a drug is under patent, competitors can’t copy it to sell knockoff versions at a discount. If they attempt to do so, the drug’s inventor can sue them for patent infringement.