Happy New Year: From “Weltschmerz” to Pharmaceutical Innovation

By Timo Minssen

Dear readers and colleagues,

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful year 2016.

Reaching the end of 2015, I cannot stop thinking about the year that has passed. Being a native German, living in Sweden and commuting every week over the bridge to Copenhagen in Denmark – most recently with thousands of terrified refugees and border controls on the way back to Sweden – this year has left me with much astonishment and concern about the state of the European Union and our global situation. It appears to me as if the EU and other global leaders have focused far too much on tiny technicalities, while leaving the bigger issues untouched and disregarding crucial lessons of history. There are so many things that we must learn from 2015’s terrible events and alarming decisions, but also from the hope-giving agreements, incidents and initiatives. For me one of the most important take-aways is that everything is connected and that sustainable, realistic solutions not only require immediate actions. In my view, we need to think about long-term strategies both in more detail and from a bigger perspective. Due to the complexity of our most pressing problems this is a colossal task. It demands more knowledge, better communications, more collaboration and a more effective coordination of  the considerable skills and different competences that are already out there.

Returning to the actual topic of this blog, it becomes evident that this is also very much true for the health sector and the bio-pharmaceutical area. Not only the Ebola outbreakglobal health crises, IPR debates, dreadful business models and controversial FTA negotiations, but also scientific break troughs, new therapies, legislative action and novel US and EU approaches demonstrate very clearly how this area is left with many challenges and opportunities. The recently approved US 21st Century Cures Act and the new EU Clinical Trials Regulation, for example, show how legislative activities pursuing laudable goals might lead to unwanted adverse effects if they are not carefully enough considered.

Against this background, I decided to conclude this year by publishing a introductory speech that I gave on April 14th, 2015 at the 2015 Broad Institute Innovation & Intellectual Property Symposium. The speech, which could only touch upon a few of the aspects mentioned above, was part of the session “Bringing Therapies to the Patients“. It introduced a panel-discussion with entrepreneurs and professors of law and business about the failures of the patent system to support new therapeutics.

Peeling the Onion: How to promote Pharmaceutical Innovation and Access to Medicine

All the best wishes/Timo Minssen

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About Timo Minssen

Timo Minssen is Professor of Law specializing in legal aspects of biomedical innovation at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH). He is the Managing Director and Founder of UCPH's new Center for Advanced Studies and Collaborative Research Programme in Biomedical Innovation Law (CeBIL). Previously, Timo had been Professor of Biotechnology Law at UCPH's Centre for Information & Innovation Law (CIIR), Visiting Research Fellow at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford (UK), Harvard Law School and at the Chicago-Kent College of Law (US), as well as Max Planck stipendiate at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition in Munich (Germany). Moreover, he was trained in the German Court system (Referendariat) and worked for shorter periods at the European Patent Office (EPO), leading law firms, tech start-ups and and for an interdisciplinary epigenetics project as a fellow of the Swedish Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies.. Timo holds a German law degree (Staatsexamen) from Georg-August-University in Göttingen, as well as Swedish biotech & IPR related LL.M., LL.Lic., and LL.D. degrees from Lund University and Uppsala University. His PhD thesis delivered a comprehensive study on the patentability of biopharmaceutical technology in the US & Europe, which received the Swedish King Oscar award. He has also received the Awapatent and Jorcks Foundation Research Prizes and was a finalist of the Swedish Wallenberg Academy Fellows program.