For more than 30 years your career has focused on the biopharmaceutical industry. What trends have you seen?
The biopharmaceutical industry has dramatically increased in complexity and cost to market. We are seeing more personalised diagnostics and more biologic-based drug approaches. The labyrinth of global clinical trials that are now required to launch a product globally and the corporate risk involved makes strong patent protection increasingly important. That makes our job as patent attorneys even more critical to the fundamental business of translating research to products.
You chose to create a small specialty biopharmaceutical firm instead of going to a large firm after leaving GSK. Why?
Before my time as chief patent counsel at GSK, I was a partner at a large law firm and fully enjoyed the experience of a major global law firm practice. After leaving GSK, I wanted to combine my experience at a large law firm with what I had learned from a large corporation and provide this service to clients of all sizes in a small specialised law firm environment using a team approach. I find that clients are incredibly happy with this type of service, as they get highly trained specialists who approach their legal issues with personal attention and care.
What type of work do you find the most rewarding and why?
We are convinced that the highest value that we can give to clients is great strategy. Pharmaceutical and biotech science and their legal landscapes are multifaceted in the United States and globally. Helping our clients to identify ways to protect and get a return on their investments for the medical innovations of tomorrow is our greatest reward. We are often referred work by clients facing IP difficulties and are pleased to be able to find successful strategies that help new drugs and diagnostics get to the patients who need them.
You have done a lot of IP work in developing countries, can you give us an idea of what that has involved?
I think it is important to be inclusive and have a global view. Developing countries are now giving great thought to what kind of patent laws work best in their environments. We must acknowledge people’s needs and at the same time help them to build their own indigenous industries by motivating domestic innovation, which can increase employment opportunities and domestically useful products.
How would you describe the state of play for biopharmaceutical patent owners in the United States currently?
It looks like the sky is the limit in biopharmaceutical research. New drug approaches – including those based on cell therapies, immuno-oncology, personal diagnostics, new pharmaceutical approaches and AI-based research approaches – are exploding. We must expand the way in which we think and consider the application of laws not designed with these approaches in mind. Given the need for these approaches to improve the quality and length of life, we will have to be creative and will perhaps need additional or new laws to motivate such directions.
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