Latin American Advocates Consider Innovation, Access During COVID-19

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Patient advocates across Latin America are exploring how smart policy can encourage innovation and protect patient access during COVID-19.

In a recent virtual meeting convened by the Global Alliance for Patient Access, more than 100 patient advocates came together to consider how innovation and access impact their countries.  Advocates represented Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, El Salvador, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay. 

A panel discussion featured insights from regional experts on trade, health law and intellectual property. 

The growing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has left Latin America, like other regions around the world, eager for treatments and vaccines.  But, as the meeting conversation revealed, policies aimed at creating accessible treatments must encompass two key factors.

Sustainability. Some governments have proposed solutions that address only the immediate access problem. Policies such as compulsory licensing, for example, may provide for treatment in the short term but can be detrimental long term by discouraging innovation. Protecting intellectual property, however, encourages new and lifesaving treatments, offering patients hope for still more effective and innovative treatments in the future. 

Governments must look toward solutions that are sustainable if they want to truly help patients, the experts argued.

Innovation.  Many patients can now manage their diseases due to innovative treatments, the discussion made clear. But experts suggested that many people don’t fully understand the financial commitment, time and risk that goes into creating these medications. Allowing companies to recoup their investments for one therapy gives them the means to develop other new treatments. 

Following the discussion, advocates plan to now identify policy solutions on innovation and patient access, especially amid COVID-19.  Participants also plan to build out a framework for continued, sustainable collaboration among the patient advocacy community and national intellectual property experts throughout Latin America

To learn more about innovation and patient access during COVID-19, read the Global Alliance for Patient Access’ newest “Fast Facts.”

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