Patents are particularly important in the life sciences sector, especially for new medicines. During the early years of developing and testing new medicines, patents are often one of the few assets that a company has.
Patents can therefore be a vital way to demonstrate credibility, to raise commercial interest and revenue, as tools to negotiate with collaborators or competitors, as well as to secure market position.
A wide variety of patents are available in the life sciences sector:
Medicines and new uses of them, and biosimilars and biobetters, can be patented in the same way as any other new chemical. Patents may also be obtained for new formulations and therapeutic regimens, as well as for processes for making new medicines.
Biological products such as genes, proteins including antibodies, stem cells and transgenic organisms can also be patented in most countries. In general, the same patentability criteria apply to these products as other chemical products.
Medical devices, methods of diagnosis and medical imaging are other areas which can be protected by patents.
There are, however, a number of exclusions from patentability in the life sciences sector in many countries (including ethical considerations); it is also particularly important for life sciences patents to be supported by an appropriate amount of data. It is therefore vital to seek professional advice for any specific matter.