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The issue of inefficiencies in the life sciences IP market is a hot topic to be discussed at the Life Science IP Forum in London in November, as WIPR finds out.
In an interview with Legal IQ, which is hosting the Life Science IP Forum on November 27 and 28 in London, Ryan Zurek, managing director of IP merchant bank Ocean Tomo, described the life sciences IP market as “highly inefficient”.
He explained that early stage life sciences companies often prefer to focus on proof of concept and hiring capable employees rather than cultivating a patent portfolio. Zurek asserted that these IP inefficiencies could lead to long-term problems for life sciences companies when trying to raise capital.
Despite having the potential to unlock new remedies for previously incurable diseases, the life sciences IP market is currently saturated with exponential R&D costs and a complex regulatory landscape. In order to thrive in this challenging market, pharmaceutical innovators must ensure they develop a strong and broad patent portfolio to secure success for their business in the long term.
“A deficiency of patent protection can result in millions of dollars of losses.”
Zurek said of life sciences companies at the later stages of development, “a deficiency of patent protection can result in millions of dollars of losses, particularly once generics can access the market. IP and finding ways to extend the life of a portfolio and product is critical to maintaining a monopoly”.
For organisations that have a strong IP portfolio, Zurek said, there is capital available but the market is highly inefficient at putting institutes together with the right resources needed to move to the later stages of development.
In an environment where holding a patent in the US, Europe and Japan covers 80% of the worldwide market in pharmaceutical sales, companies no longer need to hold a patent in multiple countries to capture a majority of market protection. However, the inefficiencies of the market and uncertainty around whether a product is going to become commercially viable makes the life sciences space challenging.
In terms of addressing these inefficiencies, Zurek said that his company is helping provide access to capital for organisations that feel their IP portfolio is being targeted by another company. He also said that patent pools, which are uncommon, may evolve in the space as many biotech and pharma companies follow the model of exclusive licensing.
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