Enabling Research and Development through Protection of Intellectual Property Rights and Pricing
Bristol-Myers Squibb invests heavily in R&D – approximately $3.6 billion in 2009 – about 19 percent of our annual sales. In 2009, we increased the number of compounds in Exploratory and Full Development by nearly 40%. We are aggressively leveraging a broad range of strategies and tools to discover and characterize new compounds, and established a center of excellence in biologics drug development and manufacturing. In addition, we have created alliances with other research organizations in order to respond swiftly to new opportunities and thereby increase our success rate.
Intellectual Property Rights
We will rigorously protect our intellectual property, which enables us to conduct important clinical research to develop innovative medicines to treat serious diseases. Bristol-Myers Squibb will seek to obtain intellectual property rights and patents that we believe to be valid. We will place the highest priority on obtaining patents for those innovations that provide the greatest medical benefit to patients and return to our shareholders. Without the enforcement of patents and the protection of intellectual property rights, it would be difficult to achieve a return on our original investment in the patented medicines to continue to discover, develop and provide innovative new medicines to patients. In order to offer physicians and patients a wider variety of therapies, we seek to secure rights to our employees' inventions, license the inventions of others and own the data that we generate about our medicines.
Our product pricing reflects our financial commitment to research and development. Pharmaceutical companies invest an average of $1.2 billion and up to 15
years to discover, develop and launch a new medicine. It is difficult
for a company to continue to invest the resources needed in developing a
medicine if it must defend patent challenges years before original
patents expire. Our pricing enables future investments to conduct research and develop new products. As part of our commitment to helping patients prevail over serious diseases, we support a number of initiatives to help provide our medicines to patients in need.
Outside the U.S., Bristol-Myers Squibb is actively engaged with governments and other partners to enable access to our HIV medicines. Through the Global Access program, we make our HIV medicines available at no-profit prices in sub-Saharan Africa and the poorest countries globally. In 2005, we announced the further reduction in the price of pediatric formulations from no-profit to significantly below cost in an attempt to further reduce barriers delaying broad and accelerated access to treatment for the millions of children in sub-Saharan Africa who need them most. Bristol-Myers Squibb has also implemented a differential pricing policy for many other markets globally.
Since 2001, Bristol-Myers Squibb has maintained a policy of not enforcing its patents for HIV products in sub-Saharan Africa. The company is committed to ensuring that its patents do not prevent inexpensive HIV/AIDS therapy in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2006, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced a highly innovative agreement for full technology transfer of its newest antiretroviral to two generic companies, Aspen and Emcure. The technology transfer agreement seeks to expand access to this medicine for people living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and India by ensuring access to a high quality product supported by local expertise, supply and infrastructure.
In the U.S., the company participates in a number of programs to ensure that those in need and who qualify can obtain its medicines at no cost or at a reduced cost. For more information, see Access to Medicines.
Product Integrity and Importation
Protecting product integrity is a global concern for patients and manufacturers as well. Unapproved or counterfeit product in the marketplace not only potentially poses serious health risks, but increases the cost of ensuring legitimate products are being provided, and reduces funding for research.
In the U.S., a number of controversial legislative proposals have emerged to amend current health and safety law to allow distributors to import prescription drugs – manufactured in the U.S. and possibly elsewhere – from Canada into the U.S. or to allow individuals to purchase medications directly from Canadian pharmacies. Amending current health and safety laws to allow for such importation of pharmaceuticals presents real risks to patients and provides no guarantee that the imported pharmaceuticals would be less expensive. Federal law on prescription drug imports and reimports reflects well-documented concerns about the safety of imported drugs and the probability that many such drugs may be unapproved, adulterated, contaminated, or counterfeit.