Pharmaceutical law aims to promote public health both by ensuring the highest standards of safety in medicinal products placed on the market and by encouraging the research and innovation that will lead to new treatments. European Union legislators have supported Member States in achieving these aims but have been careful to introduce measures in such a way so as prevent creating barriers to trade and a distortion of competition.
These measures have inevitably meant an erosion of the proprietary intellectual property rights that are intended to reward innovators in industrial sectors. Incentives such as exclusivity periods and supplementary protection certificates redress the balance between public health and proprietary rights to some extent and play a role in continuing to attract investment to the pharmaceutical sector. Member States determine priorities for their national health budgets, but increasing budgetary pressures may undermine the incentives offered at EU level. European Union legislators should carefully preserve existing incentives in order to maintain the competitive landscape so that access by patients in the EU to novel and innovative treatments is not undermined.
In the article “Rewarding Innovation: Pharmaceutical Incentives as a Crucial Instrument to Foster Public Health“, published in the European Pharmaceutical Law Review (Volume 2, Issue 2), Laëtitia Bénard, Jacqueline Bore and Eveline Van Keymeulen examine the existing incentives for pharmaceutical innovation in the EU and the legal and practical limitations of the regime. The authors support the view that the current system balances internal market and public health objectives, often at the expense of companies’ proprietary rights, and conclude that any attempts to undermine or further weaken these incentives is likely to be detrimental to public health.
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