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Patents in the Pharmaceutical Industry: The Race to Medical Innovation

The pharmaceutical industry is arguably the most competitive field in existence outside of software or law, and this makes protecting IP all the more essential. Considering new drugs can potentially save lives around the world, protecting innovative medicines you've created is essential to prevent being copied by competitors.

Since innovation is already a high-risk process in the pharmaceutical industry, the chances of you losing money are much greater not protecting ideas. Much of this becomes solved when you make an effort to patent your drug concepts.

The risk of not filing only compounds the extensive revenue you put in for sake of innovation. Consider if a competing pharma company claims they created a specific drug before you, the litigation to prove it would become very expensive.

Without a patent as proof, you may find yourself in financial jeopardy before you benefit from your innovations.


Patents Protecting Against the Long Road of Pharma Development

As many pharma patent analysts remind, it sometimes takes between 13 to 15 years to develop a drug in the marketplace. Because it takes so long (and the resources required to develop it), the chances are good someone else could copy the idea.

For any intellectual property, more than a decade is an eternity to wait until you patent the product. You need to patent a pharma drug concept once it's created since first to file laws force a race to the finish line.

Obtaining a patent now enables you to regroup the costs you'll be putting in for all the pharma research and development. In total, you can expect a patent to help you bring as much as 80% revenue, helping you keep yourself above water.

It's not to say you might not find some challenges later after obtaining your patent. This all depends on the details you protect for your pharma product.


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Patenting Important Details to Prevent Being Contested

You could run into legal challenges on certain aspects of your pharma drug if you don't broaden the patent's scope. Having an overly narrow description of what your drug is could enable a competing company to claim ownership for a particular element.

For instance, active ingredients and method of manufacture could easily become contested if you didn't patent these specifically.

It's hard to keep a pharma drug secret after it's patented since all pharma inventions require disclosure before going to market. This differs from other technologies typically being able to stay a secret until being sold to consumers.

Extending Patents on Pharma Drugs

Sometimes it's essential to extend a patent for a drug you're developing, especially if the drug becomes commercially successful. Doing so protects any new formulations you've developed in the meantime a competitor could easily steal.

Another reason to extend your patent is due to the huge market on generic drugs. If a patent expires, it leaves it open for pharmacompanies to create a generic version of the drug you developed.

In some scenarios, one of your patents might become unenforceable, leaving it open for generic drug makers to take your idea and profit off it. Some of this could occur overseas if you had no patent protection in specific countries.

There could even be scenarios where you update the original drug compound and end up competing with the generic version already being sold. Going this route may require more clinical trials as well as a lengthy patent re-application process. Drug regulators may determine there's a fault in the new compound, hence your patent being lost.

All of this proves the value in patents in complex industries like pharmaceuticals.