Intellectual Property, Surrogate Licensing, and Precision Medicine

20 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2018 Last revised: 12 Apr 2018

See all articles by Jacob S. Sherkow

Jacob S. Sherkow

New York Law School; Columbia University - Department of Health Policy and Management; Center for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law

Jorge L. Contreras

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: April 9, 2018

Abstract

The fruits of the biotechnology revolution are beginning to be harvested. Recent regulatory approvals of “precision medicine” therapies target patients’ specific genetic, physiological and environmental profiles rather than generalized diagnoses of disease. These may soon be supplemented by gene editing technologies such as CRISPR, which could enable the targeted eradication of deleterious genetic variants to improve human health. But the intellectual property surrounding precision therapies and their foundational technology remain controversial. Precision therapies ultimately rely—and are roughly congruent with—basic scientific information developed in the service of academic research. Much of precision medicine’s IP, however, is held by academic research institutions that employ for-profit surrogate companies, companies responsible both for commercially developing university research and sublicensing university IP to others. This creates an uneasy tension between the public missions of universities and the commercial motives of surrogates, particularly universities’ goals of producing and disclosing scientific information, and surrogates’ goals of exploiting that information for commercial gain. This essay examines the challenges that surrogate licensing poses for the future of precision medicine, and recommends licensing approaches and best practices that may better promote scientific discovery, the development of human therapies, and overall social welfare.

Keywords: intellectual property, patents, licenses, precision medicine, CRISPR, biologics, drugs

JEL Classification: K00, K23, K41, O3, O34, D23, K11

Suggested Citation

Sherkow, Jacob S. and Contreras, Jorge L., Intellectual Property, Surrogate Licensing, and Precision Medicine (April 9, 2018). IP Theory, Vol. 7 (2018); NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3106340. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3106340

Jacob S. Sherkow (Contact Author)

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States
212.431.2355 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.nyls.edu/faculty/faculty-profiles/faculty_profiles/jacob-s-sherkow/

Columbia University - Department of Health Policy and Management ( email )

600 West 168th Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10032
United States

Center for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law ( email )

Studiestraede 6
Studiestrade 6
Copenhagen, DK-1455
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://jura.ku.dk/cebil/staff/

Jorge L. Contreras

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

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