Almost a thousand clinical trials, more than 230 drugs and vaccines to combat Covid-19

Industrial property is “the main reason why there is such a solid base of innovation from which to work to find solutions,” says the director of the International Federation of the Pharmaceutical Industry.



The health crisis caused by SARS-CoV-2 has created an unprecedented worldwide research effort to find a therapeutic solution as soon as possible. The result is striking both for the volume of investigations and for the short period of time in which they have been initiated. Just three months after the first data on the virus was released, nearly a thousand clinical trials of the disease are already underway, more than 130 drugs are in the testing phase, and more than 100 vaccine projects are being tested.

This scientific career would not have been possible without the existence for years of a predictable regulatory framework, based on industrial property laws and the existence of patents worldwide to protect innovation. This was highlighted by the director general of the International Federation of the Pharmaceutical Industry (Ifpma), Thomas Cueni, in an article in the economic newspaper Financial Times. “Patents, and intellectual property in general, are the main reason why there is such a solid innovation base from which to work to find solutions.” Despite the large number of ongoing research projects, he adds, “there is no guarantee of success, as few treatments and even fewer vaccines can be safe and effective. This level of risk taking would be impossible without a burgeoning ecosystem of innovation based on intellectual property incentives. ”

The CEO of Ifpma – which represents innovative pharmaceutical companies worldwide and to which Farmaindustria belongs – adds that calling into question the industrial property framework now “would create uncertainty and send the wrong message to pharmaceutical companies that have taken risks in large investments to reuse drugs to treat patients with Covid-19 and expand manufacturing. ” “Intellectual property,” he adds, “is not an obstacle, but rather an aid to ending the Covid-19.”

Cueni also recalls that the pharmaceutical industry committed itself from the beginning of the health crisis, in addition to guaranteeing the supply of all medicines, that there will be an equitable distribution of effective treatments when they are available and that they do so at an affordable price. This was reaffirmed by the International Federation of the Pharmaceutical Industry itself by joining as a founding partner the global alliance led by the World Health Organization (WHO), called ACT Accelerator, whose objective is to accelerate the development and production of therapies and vaccines against to coronavirus and ensure that these treatments are affordable and equitably available to all.

A model that works

For the pharmaceutical industry, the set of industrial property protection measures offers guarantees to companies that research and develop new drugs that if one of their innovative drugs is finally approved and reaches patients, it will have an adequate time frame for try to recover the investment made and generate resources that can be reinvested in new biomedical R&D projects.

This is critical in drug research, due to the high cost of resources and time and the high risk involved. Making a drug available to patients takes 10-12 years of work and $ 2.5 billion, and just one in 10,000 research compounds will one day hit the market. In addition to this, only three out of ten medicines marketed manage to recover the investment made, thanks to the aforementioned high costs, strong therapeutic competition and the progressive specificity of the treatments, increasingly geared towards specific patient profiles, among others. issues.

Still, the innovative effort of the pharmaceutical industry has a huge impact on the health of the population. Companies in the sector develop more than 95% of the medicines available in the world. And these treatments cure diseases or significantly improve the quality of life of patients. The new drugs are directly responsible for 73% of the increase in life expectancy in developed countries.

These data corroborate the success of the biomedical research model led by pharmaceutical companies, which is based on an investment of more than $ 170 billion annually worldwide, which is evolving towards greater openness and collaboration with third parties (hospitals, universities and public and private research centers) and that has transformed people’s health care in recent decades.

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