The Impact of National Policies on IP Protection

Earlier this month, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released “How National Policies Impact Global Biopharma Innovation: A Worldwide Ranking.”  Timed close to this week's World IP Day, the report reminds us of the role policymakers play in supporting innovation. 

For their ranking, ITIF reviewed 56 countries according to “the extent to which their scientific research, drug pricing, and intellectual property policies contribute to global biopharma innovation.” Their rank included an examination of research and development expenditures, pharmaceutical price controls, and protections for data relating to biologics.

So, how did Canada stack up in this global overview of intellectual property policies? Similar to the findings of a Global Intellectual Property Center report released on February 10, ITIF’s rankings show that Canada has room to grow when it comes to improvements in our national IP environment. One telling statistic: ITIF found that when compared to peer nations like Switzerland, Canada falls behind, ranking 27 out of 56 nations examined in the report. 

When it comes down to it, intellectual property and medical innovation are inextricably linked. In Canada, and the rest of the world, a better tomorrow depends on policy environments that protect IP, especially today, as we focus on our knowledge-based economy. To continue making life-saving discoveries, innovators need to know their work/research is valued. And that value gets communicated through robust IP protections. 

The commitment to protecting and encouraging medical discovery has already revolutionized health outcomes. In fact, in the past forty years, the 5-year survival rates have increased for breast cancer by 21%, prostate cancer by 50%, and lung cancer by 54%. Medical discovery also offers hope to the 1 in 12 Canadians living with a rare disease who might otherwise lose access to lifesaving treatments.  

There are signs that Canada’s commitment to innovation and IP protections are strengthening. Just last month, Finance Minister Bill Morneau introduced a new cross-government “Innovation Agenda” to be led by Minister of Innovation Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, and Minister Chrystia Freeland has been actively working to ratify the Canada and European Union  Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).  It is important for us to continue to build on this live-saving progress by encouraging policies that will modernize IP protections in Canada.