is an economist, journalist and former Swiss diplomat, and today is head of the IFPMA (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations), representing the innovative pharma industry and accredited organization in official relations with the United Nations.
Protecting innovation through patents is the lifeblood of the global pharmaceutical industry. Without patents the world and its expanding population would be deprived of new and, ultimately, affordable life-saving medicines. Nevertheless, the high profitability of pharma companies has prompted an increasingly widespread (and often ill-informed) political debate on patents. This is not just because of mounting health costs but also the lack of access to life-saving medicines in developing countries. But this argument on the alleged high costs caused by patents falls short because most patents for essential medicines on the World Health Organization (WHO) list are expired and are available at generic medicine prices. Even so, patients in countries where they are most needed do not have access to generics. And the reasons for this are multiple, not least inadequate, poorly-funded healthcare systems.