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 outbreak, global 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.
All the best wishes/Timo Minssen