Tahir Amin, DipLP, co-founder and director of intellectual property of Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge, a public interest team of attorneys and scientists who ensure that patents do not obstruct access to affordable medicines for patients in the United States and around the world, discusses transparency in drug pricing.
Drug makers often argue that developing a drug is so costly that high prices are warranted to recoup their costs and reward innovation. What do you think about that argument?
I think that’s a fair argument, and we know that there are a lot of costs that go into drug development and research. What those exact costs are we don’t exactly know, it’s a bit of a black box, and I think some transparency around that would be helpful so that these debates and these discussions can be more informed. But we don’t believe that all the various patents that are being filed warrant or explain all the costs and the sort of profits that are being made as a result of these strategies that companies are using in order to prevent competition.
I think those are separate issues, and they need to be unpackaged better to have a better policy to help both the payers and the public in order to get fairer pricing; but also to actually better improve what kind of [research and development, R&D] is done, what kind of innovation comes out of the system because at the moment I feel the patent system is an incentive mechanism which is not functioning at its highest possible way.