Review: “Fighting Corona – a question of money and patents?”

Today (23.06.2020) at the ITM, journalist Niklas Schenck discussed with Oliver Lampe (Managing Director of the Intellectual Property Research Centre) in the webinar “Fighting Corona – a question of money and patents?” the effects of patent law on the research and development of drugs and other medical devices. In particular, the current coronavirus pandemic was discussed. More than 100 experts in intellectual property and pharmaceutical law (including from GRUR) took part in the event via Zoom and Youtube.

Niklas Schenck has for many years critically examined topics relating to the pharmaceutical industry as a freelance journalist and has also encountered actors who advocate decoupling the incentive for medical innovation from the sales price (‘delinkage’). He spoke about these experiences and also about his own – quite pronounced – stance on the subject in the approximately one-hour webinar after a short introduction by Prof. Hoeren; the lunch talk is available on the Internet here.

Mr. Schenck saw current problems in the multitude of pharmaceutical patents, the construction of patent thickets and the operation of patent evergreening. In his view, this would make the production of generics and cheap drugs more difficult. Developing and emerging countries would be particularly hard hit by these circumstances. However, the high prices would also have an impact on the healthcare system and the care of patients in industrialised countries.

As solutions to the problems, Mr. Schenck reported on several approaches that are being advocated in professional circles: Open-license programs or patent funds, innovation prices and buyout regulations would play a major role here. From the point of view of the advocates, these models should make it possible to make drugs available to patients at a significantly lower cost and in a more comprehensive manner.

In conclusion, Mr Schenck once again pointed out vehemently and militantly that, in his view, governments should act now and that it would be difficult to correct the situation afterwards.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Schenck once again for the interview. It became clear that it is certainly right to take a critical look at things and to address the problems and grievances openly, and should under no circumstances be suppressed. Nevertheless, the supposedly simple solutions, which are always popular, should also be critically examined and thought through. In this respect, the event was an important appetizer for the further ITM lunch discussions.