is an Associate Professor of Economics at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, and Chair of the Department of Economics and Business. She earned a B.A. from Macalester College, with a double major in Economics and Latin American Studies, and received her Ph.D. in Economics in 2000 from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr.Acri’s research analyzes the challenges surrounding intellectual property rights protection in innovative industries: incentivizing pharmaceutical research and development especially on neglected diseases, addressing the difficulties of strengthening intellectual property rights protection in developing countries, battling the problems related to pharmaceutical counterfeiting and the unique nature of protection for biotech therapies. Recent publications have also addressed alternatives to the existing patent system, the balance between pharmaceutical patent protection and access to essential medicines, and the markets for jointly produced goods such as blood and blood products. Kristina has testified in more than a dozen states on the economics of pharmaceutical counterfeiting. She has also worked with US Food and Drug Administration, Reconnaissance International, PhRMA, the National Peace Foundation, the OECD, the Fraser Institute, the Macdonald Laurier Institute, and the World Bank, on issues of innovation, international trade, and corruption.
In mid-December, President Trump presented a plan to lower prescription drug prices by allowing states, drug wholesalers and pharmacies to import some cheaper drugs from Canada. While reducing the cost of medicines is a laudable goal, pharmaceutical importation programs – if implemented safely and effectively – would fail to deliver the promised savings. And if implemented without the necessary safeguards, they would endanger the lives of countless patients. The plan essentially relies upon importing price controls from Canada, which will both undermine innovation and prove unsustainable. As with many “simple solutions” the devil is in the details. Not surprisingly, the Trump Administration’s plan contains very few details on implementation. And it is precisely those details that are expensive and complicated.
The United States is on the brink of making changes to the U.S. patent law that would be modeled on India’s Patent Law. At a Senate Judiciary Committee markup scheduled for tomorrow, June 27, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) plans to offer language as an amendment in the form of the No Combination Drug Patents Act. The language of the bill would prohibit the patenting of new forms, new uses and new methods of administration of new medicines unless the patent applicant can show “a statistically significant increase in efficacy”. This language is oddly similar to India’s Section 3(d), something the Trump Administration’s U.S. Trade Representative has complained “restricts patent eligible subject matter in a way that poses a major obstacle to innovators” (see here, page 49). Other Senators have also weighed in against “a generally deteriorating environment for intellectual property” in India (see here), including Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Judiciary Committee members Mike Crapo (R-ID), Amy Klobuchar(D-MN)and Chris Coons (D-CT).
Thanks to a number of new Hepatitis C drugs (Sofosbuvir Ledipasvir, Ladispavir) the disease is curable for many patients. While this is an undeniable victory for patients and payers, the innovators who made this possible have been villainized and undermined. At a time when the public health community should celebrate the tremendous health benefits these breakthrough drugs have brought to patients around the world, they are instead organizing to ensure the destruction of the incentives that made these drugs a reality. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2% – 3% of the world’s population is living with hepatitis C. The World Health Organization states that globally an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection and approximately 399,000 people die each year from the disease.
The European Union suffers from an investment deficit relative to other industrialized nations. A recent report by the European Commission emphasizes this impact, “the EU needs to put in place better incentives and conditions for businesses to innovate” in important areas such as market regulations, intellectual property rights protection, barriers to entrepreneurship, and ease of doing business. Given this, encouraging investment is essential to future growth. Weakening the IP incentives embedded in SPCs would be a step in the wrong direction.