Patent – Need or Greed?

Pharmaceutical companies are constantly delivering on its promise to fight diseases that are still incurable, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amongst others. IPR protection is a key requirement to keep the funds flowing so that more innovation can be done. Innovation is a long drawn process, it takes 10-12 years & requires more than a billion US dollars to come up with one therapeutic out of the 1000 o more odds to be screened out.  Companies rely on the monopolistic rights they get arising out of patent to recoup the investment. Patent protection purports to grant such rights but the companies have just a few years window to recoup the investment. A patent is filed early in the development stage and it takes 10-12 years to get marketing authorization, after which a span of 8-10 years is left after which generics would come into the market.  It is, therefore, no surprise that during the patent term the drugs are exorbitantly priced and it is often out of reach to masses in developing country. Companies are further pushing the governments to grant patent term extension and it needs to be seen if governments would agree to such demands and how a balance between profitability & public benefit is reached. While quality & standards are utmost important when it comes to health the fine line between need & greed needs to be drawn.