Sixteen years ago, my mother was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer and, after a brave fight, passed away nine months later. After this devastating event, I decided to devote my life to raising awareness about colorectal cancer and increasing the care options available to those affected by this horrible disease.
Fortunately, for many patients today, cancer treatments have improved significantly since my mother’s diagnosis. There are currently more than 800 medicines in the pipeline to treat various forms of cancer, including 46 for colorectal cancer. Additionally, innovative medicines like biologics – complex medicines that are manufactured from living organisms -- are now offering greater hope for patients and their families. Due to the progress made in the development of these treatments, patients with metastatic colon cancer are now living nearly three times longer - with recent death rates decreasing by nearly 50 percent.
However, the journey to this point and beyond is not an easy one. On average, it takes 10–15 years and more than $2.6 billion to bring a medicine through the discovery and clinical trial phases to patients. Furthermore, our country’s top biopharmaceutical scientists are only able to enter into this process because of the strong intellectual property (IP) protections currently granted to them under U.S. law. These allow innovators to maintain their advantage and provide the incentive needed to start or continue their lifesaving work.
The U.S. leads the world in drug development and biopharmaceutical research and it’s not a coincidence that we have among the strongest IP protections laws. Countries that have those protections in place, have far greater access to life saving treatments than countries with poor IP protection.
But we can change that.
Trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), can level the playing field and ensure that strong IP protections are in place to improve global access to lifesaving medicines and encourage continued innovation.
It really is that simple: Investors have a choice on where to invest their money. Do we want more strip malls and parking lots, or more investment in innovative medicines?