The welcome news of a compact between industry and the WHO to fight neglected diseases in the developing world only highlights a much more spotty industry record of engagement on sensitive policy issues like intellectual property rights.
One of the industry’s more ambitious policy-driven efforts occurred some five years ago with a strong, well-funded and broadly framed campaign to defend patent protection as part of a public inquiry by a special WHO Commission on IP and Public Health, whose recommendations continue to influence the entire multulateral community’s thinking on the subject.
A key tool for this rare exercise in IP engagement was a special industry-sponsored web site www.biag.org established by the WHO Commission’s Biomedical Industry Advisory Group of leading industry executives.
Recently, to refresh our understanding of industry thinking on this critically vital topic, Pharm Exec ventured to open the link — only to find that industry has apparently let its domain ownership lapse in favor of none other than the Barbecue Industry Association Grillverband.e.V — a network of local companies with a commitment to the august social objective of persuading more Germans to grill their bratwurst outside.
If industry neglect has led to the abandonment of the one place with a rich response for those interested in learning of the R&D perspective on the important issues raised by the Commission, then the new link leaves an unsavory taste about just how committed companies are to outreach on IP. As for those endlessly resourceful critics of the innovator community’s views on IP and the poor, it is entirely appropriate for them to conclude revenge is a dish best served — braised?
Meanwhile the search for a detailed and accessible communication of industry positioning on the connection between patents and access continues. Pharm Exec’s September issue profile of IP lead Roy Waldron represents a start, but more must follow.