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The Blog of Drug Discovery News

Third time’s a charm for patent reform?

So, for the third consecutive session of the U.S. Congress, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has introduced patent reform legislation, along with former committee chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and other senators [notably: Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the committee’s ranking Republican, and fellow senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.)].

It’s legislation that, if passed, would affect more than just pharmas and biotechs, obviously, but certainly those types of companies are among the ones who most rely on patent protections to keep themselves going. Here’s what the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has to say about the proposed reform, by way of PhRMA Senior Vice President Wes Metheny:

“Senator Leahy’s patent reform bill would strengthen the patent system while protecting patent owners and maintaining incentives for innovation. The bill balances the diverse interests of various stakeholders across American business sectors while maintaining strong and reliable intellectual property protection. A strong patent system is crucial to America’s economic competitiveness and our global leadership in medical innovation, especially in these economically trying times.

“The U.S.patent system provides American businesses with incentives that drive innovation and create jobs across the country. By creating a positive environment for innovative R&D, the patent system encourages the development of ideas into life-changing products and further encourages the ideas of the future.

“This couldn’t be more true than in the biopharmaceutical research sector. In a field where the development of an average new medicine can take 10-15 years and cost more than $1.3 billion, the incentives provided by intellectual property play a key role in encouraging this costly – and risky – investment.

“In the end, the benefits are great. Life expectancy is at an all-time high and previously life-threatening diseases are now viewed as controllable conditions, largely on the strength of the innovative R&D taking place through America’s biopharmaceutical sector. Meanwhile, the sector – one of the most research-intensive in the world – employs more than 650,000 direct biopharmaceutical workers and supports a total of more than 3 million jobs.

“America’s biopharmaceutical research companies have a real and significant effect on healthcare and on the economy. This just wouldn’t be true without a reliable and predictable patent system.

“Senator Leahy’s bill – and the support of its cosponsors – demonstrates their appreciation for the importance of intellectual property protection to the U.S. economy and to the jobs – and life-saving innovation – that it provides.”

“With this agreement, we are closer than ever to advancing patent reform legislation through the Senate,” said Leahy in a prepared statement Feb. 3. “Senator Hatch and I have worked through many Congresses to make meaningful reforms to the nation’s patent system, and I appreciate his commitment to this effort. This compromise may not be everything that everyone wants, but it makes important reforms to the outdated patent system. Strengthening American patents will improve the quality of our inventions and innovations, which will translate into jobs and economic growth in Vermont and across the country. Congress is committed to strengthening our economy, and the Patent Reform Act is an important component of that effort. I hope the leaders will soon schedule floor time for this important legislation.”


February 3, 2011 Posted by | Corporate, Government, Lawsuits & Legal Matters | , | Leave a comment

Laying down the law

Here at ddn, there have been some notable times when we’ve covered a big merger and acquisition-style story and just as we’ve put the issue to bed, and sent it off to the printer, something major changes in the negotiations, motivations or suitors for the company in question. As such, we’ve started to ask ourselves how early in the process of such transactions do we want to start covering them. Along with that, once they seem to be reaching a climax or conclusion, how long do we wait before reporting on it?…just to make sure…

Granted, that’s become less of an issue with our increasing use of the blog and the website to handle breaking news in a way that the monthly print publication cannot. Still, one doesn’t want to look silly with reporting that has been rendered moot or incorrect printed in four-color glory in tens of thousands of hard copies that cannot be changed, without an army of elves wielding white-out and really tiny pens.

All that is by way of me saying that lawsuits are even worse to cover in a monthly publication, and maybe that’s why you don’t see them covered very often in ddn. Depending on the district, judge, litigants and defendants, it often plays out like a ping-pong match between two people who’ve just taken a dose of Ambien.

And even when there’s a ruling, it might get turned over or held up weeks later on an appeal. It all gets very frustrating to cover and, worse yet, almost never will any of the companies involved speak on the record (or at all) until they have a definitive victory.

So, in short, they are boring.


I still think there is value in covering them (as long as you keep it short and can readjust quickly to changes), and I see today some breaking news that Life Technologies has a new company to sue (AB Sciex). I’m sure Illumina or one of the other big guys will find a new victim to drag into court again soon, too, so I’ve decided to keep tabs on some of the big cases here in the blog, even though they may not make for big posts. So, we have yet another new category here for your reading pleasure: Lawsuits and Legal Matters.

As you can probably guess from the name, there may not only be lawsuit coverage gut also the occasional overflow here from the Government Watch section of ddn, in which we often cover state and federal legislation and other legal topics.

Stay tuned. It’ll be fun, I promise (you can trust me; I have my right hand on a stack of Mad magazines)

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Lawsuits & Legal Matters | , , | Leave a comment