NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Celebrity Apprentice and Medical Innovation Have Something Important in Common

February 13, 2017

Senior Fellow John R. Graham writes at NCPA's Health blog.  A version of this was published by Forbes.

A new report should help President Trump find his way out of the confusion suggested by his very mixed signals on the role of medical innovation to American prosperity and patients. Last month, he said research-based drug-makers' practices were "disastrous," the industry was "getting away with murder," and suggested the federal government should dictate prices of medicines.

A couple of weeks later, he told pharmaceutical executives: "You folks have done a terrific job over the years … The U.S. drug companies have produced extraordinary results…" To cap it off, he promised to end "global freeloading." "Foreign price controls reduce the resources of American drug companies to finance drug R&D and innovation."

One difficulty with the President's recent statement is that policies which allow American research-based drug-makers to succeed apply equally to foreign drug-makers which operate here. Any innovative drug-maker which wants to supply its therapies to American patients can apply for patents which assure its intellectual property will not be taken by copy-cats. While patents are issued by national governments, international agreements are necessary to ensure global benefits.

President Trump traduces international trade agreements, which have included protections for intellectual property since the United States and other countries signed the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 1994.

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