Incubate Takes the Stand: Testifying on Global Importance of IP 

See Incubate's blog post from Executive Director John Stanford on his recent testimony before the International Trade Organization about how weakening Intellectual Property protections will damage the early-stage life science ecosystem.



As the voice of the early-stage life science ecosystem, Incubate is charged with raising awareness of the key facets of making medicine. That took on a literal meaning recently, as I testified before the International Trade Commission (ITC) at their “COVID-19 Diagnostics and Therapeutics: Supply, Demand, and TRIPS Agreement Flexibilities” hearing.  

My testimony highlighted the critical role intellectual property plays in drug development decisions such as how, when, and to whom capital is granted; a vital series of decisions critical to the development of the next generation of medicines. As a voice for both the investor and the entrepreneur, weakening IP will lead to significantly reduced investment in the early-stage life science ecosystem and, therefore, fewer new, life-changing (or even life-saving) drugs. 

Importantly for this debate, which we’ve commented on a lot, the reality is that IP ultimately was not the barrier it was made out to be during the initial TRIPS waiver debates. Long standing inequities, barriers to access to medicine in the developing world, manufacturing realities, and even vaccine hesitation proved to be insurmountable challenges which ultimately led to millions of doses of vaccine going unused. The initial TRIPS waiver, however, did send a clear signal that under certain conditions IP and the rule of law is not universally guaranteed. 

The simple truth is IP is fundamental to making medicines. Weakening it, leads to weaker outcomes. Calling for its removal may make a good slogan, but it only demonstrates a misunderstanding of the ecosystem. We tried to address those misconceptions and will continue to do so – that’s what being “the voice” of the ecosystem is all about.