An area where Japan and China exercise strong state control to the possible benefit of stem cell-based invention is their national health care systems, the statement notes. In the West, strong intellectual property rights have encouraged the "development of stand-alone blockbuster products," the group says, whereas the national health systems in East Asia may allow patients access to more individualized, innovative treatments. This, the group posits, could be a model for stem cell-based therapies.
"Innovation in China and Japan occurs in the context of national commitments to public health, and as a practical matter that should make access to cell-based therapies more equitable," Mathews says.
The statement also notes the significant cultural differences that contribute to challenges and opportunities with intellectual property policy, practice and stem cell research in the region. The group notes that Japan and China are "markedly less litigious" than western nations, and recognition for scientific work and publication priority are highly valued. "Secrecy appears to be a relatively more common mode of protecting researchers' raw [intellectual property rights], as opposed to more formalized legal systems of protection, such as patenting," the statement says. In light of this, an appropriate incentive to sharing data and materials among scientists in the region would be the protection of their interests and rights, perhaps through a grace or priority period, the group says, during which the data is public
|Contact: Leah Ramsay|
Johns Hopkins Medicine