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Need to Commercialize Outcomes of Academic Research

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:
Despite significant scientific and technological research being carried out by India’s excellent academic institutions, the benefits have not filtered down to the people due to lack of commercialization of the outcomes, a leading US-based Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) expert said at a conclave on cancer treatment here today.

“It is important to transfer the results of research to the market, so that they will reach the people that need them. Without that possibility, you will not get the returns of your work,” said Manu S Nair, Vice President, Technology Ventures, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

He was speaking on the topic, “Love it or hate it: IP protection & limited monopoly in drug development/commercialization”, at the 39th annual conference of Indian Association for Cancer Research (ICAR), hosted by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB).

“India has excellent academic institutions. But there are no proper methods for commercialization of academic technologies, which needs to be addressed in all seriousness,” Nair observed.

Transfer of the results of academic research is especially vital in the case of medicinal drugs as patients should be the ultimate beneficiaries. In the US, majority of medicines patented and marketed by drug manufacturing companies have come from academia. “Unlike in the US, academic research does not either contribute or translate significantly into proprietary drugs in India,” he said.

For the commercial transfer of academic technologies to happen, it is essential to remove hurdles like restrictions on research institutions in engaging with patenting agencies and industry and funds constraints faced by them in such matters, he said.

“Regulatory hurdles should be removed. Too many rules and too many regulations! It is not going to help,” he bemoaned. Making a strong case for building skill sets, Nair said handling these matters should be shifted from bureaucrats to technology analysts, patent and commercial evaluators.

The argument that patenting and marketing of discoveries of academia will only lead to monopolization and not in the interest of the people is not a sound one, he contended.

“This issue can be addressed by the government through other means like subsidized access to medicines and services and insurance schemes. A dedicated leadership at the institutions and scientists with vision are also important in making advances in this area,” he said. Prof. M Radhakrishna Pillai, Director RGCB, spoke at the outset of the session.

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