WHO dat going to stop health care innovation?

WHO dat going to stop health care innovation?

Summary: This week, in Geneva, a series of meetings have been taking place which, industry claims, could kill health care innovation in its tracks.

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World Health Organization logoThis week, in Geneva, a series of meetings have been taking place which, industry claims, could kill health care innovation in its tracks. (That's the World Health Organization logo at right.)

The World Health Organization's Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (IGWG) meeting in Geneva is designed to develop a global strategy for speeding cures to people worldwide. Especially poor people.

Among the proposals are a global treaty on research and development, a "prize fund" to reward innovation, commitments to buy products at agreed prices, and "patent pools" to bundle technology for licensing.

The group was formed last year after release of a report saying intellectual property issues were not a big factor in contributing to innovation in developing countries.

To hear industry advocates tell it, however, the Communists are at the barricades wanting to destroy patent protections worldwide.

The attitude is summed up by Philip Stevens of the International Policy Network, a corporate-funded lobby based in London. If R&D Ain't Broke, Why Break It?.

A McGill University think tank says one proposed treaty draft "introduces general principles that put health above commercial interests."

On the other hand, some patient advocates claim the meeting has already been gamed by corporate interests. (PDF

It's a clash of vision and practicalities, concludes Intellectual Property Watch, and that's true. Advanced countries feel they're paying the cost of innovation, while developing nations feel they're being asked to pay too much as well, and getting too little.

But how long can this status quo hold before reformers become so strident they really do become Marxists, as the industry fears?

The political winds in the West are starting to blow against the industry, and the best time to compromise is when you're strongest.

Topics: Software, CXO, Emerging Tech, Enterprise Software, Health, Legal, IT Employment

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