When Patents Aren’t Enough: The Case for Data Exclusivity for Biologic Medicines
Although complementary, patents and data exclusivity protection incentivize innovation in different ways and serve distinct purposes. Patents provide protection for innovations that meet the standards of patentability and are novel, nonobvious, and useful. In the context of biopharmaceuticals, patents protect both breakthrough discoveries as well as incremental improvements. Due to the length of the drug-development and patent-approval processes, effective patent terms rarely correspond to FDA approval. Accordingly, in some cases innovative therapies may experience patent expiry shortly after making it to market. In contrast, data exclusivity protects the tremendous investments of time, talent, and financial resources required to establish a new therapy as safe and effective. This is accomplished by requiring competing firms seeking regulatory approval of the same or a similar product to independently generate the comprehensive preclinical and clinical trial data rather than rely on or use the innovator’s data to establish safety and efficacy of their competing product.