Here are some key terms that might be new to you:
Clinical trials: Research investigations in which potential new therapeutic compounds are tested in animals, then in humans, to determine efficacy and safety. Clinical trials tend to be expensive and can take months to years.
Drug pipeline: The portfolio of drugs a pharmaceutical company has that are at various stages of the research and development process.
Exclusive license/Non-exclusive license: When a patent is held over the production and sale of a product, another manufacturer must have a license granted by the patent holder to produce and sell it. An exclusive license means that only one license holder can manufacture and sell the product. A non-exclusive license allows more than one license holder to manufacture and sell the patented product. In drug development, non-exclusive licenses allow generic manufacturers to enter the market, which decreases monopoly power and increases access.
“Free at point of delivery”: A product or service that requires no payment from the individual who receives it.
Global access licensing: Licensing principles that include provisions ensuring global access to the product in question. To ensure that intellectual property protections do not create barriers to further research, these policies emphasize the use of transparent, non-exclusive licensing practices.
Health equity: When everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. Inequities are created when structural barriers prevent individuals and communities from accessing these conditions and reaching their full potential.
Innovative advocacy: Advocacy that incorporates culture, context, and creativity to maximize the impact and spread of the political message.
Intellectual property: A work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.
Jonas Salk: A physician and virologist who developed the first safe and effective vaccine for polio. Salk prioritized widespread distribution over profit. He never patented his discovery. When asked who owns the patent he responded: “The people I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
License: A license grants another party permission to produce your patented property. Often in pharmaceuticals, entities that create a new drug will license their work to larger company that can produce and market it.
Monopoly: When one party maintains sole ownership of a specific commodity. Pharmaceutical companies’ monopolies are a central factor in high drug prices. Companies often manipulate the patent system to stretch their monopoly pricing power. This prevents generic drugs from entering the market with competitive products that lower prices.
Open source: An alternative paradigm to the drug discovery process, emphasizing open access to research findings to promote innovation.
Patent: Government license on intellectual property that gives the owner legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a set period of time. Pharmaceutical companies will often extend their patents with small, non-essential modifications to the drug in order to maintain a monopoly on the market.
R&D (Research and Development): The process a drug goes through before reaching the market. The process begins with basic science research of a biological system leading to identification of a therapeutic target. In chronological order, R&D steps include the discovery, pre-clinical, clinical, and marketing stages.
Technology transfer: The transfer of an original technology from the originator to an external entity. Technology transfer can occur through many routes, the main one being licensing.