Public Release: 

Handbook aims to help developing countries health research grow into industries

Arizona State University

Biotechnology offers both the promise of developing exciting new medicines, but it also offers the possibility of developing homegrown medical technologies in countries that have traditionally not been fully served by the developed world's health industry. However, in the complex world of modern health, being able to discover a new medical technology does not necessarily mean that it will be brought to the public in the form of medicine or treatment. Before that can happen, there are patents and licenses and agreements - the business of medicine - that have to be worked through.

New medical research is currently being actively pursued in public institutions in developing countries, but researchers and research center manager in those institutions are often poorly prepared to manage the intellectual property that their research produces. Many of these institutions simply lack the legal and business resources that similar institutions in the developed world have.

Aiming to help fill this gap, the Centre for the Management of Intellectual Property in Health Research and Development (MIHR), an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation, has produced a handbook on intellectual property management designed to guide and instruct managers in the confusing and complicated process of bringing health discoveries to market.

Entitled Handbook of Best Practices for Management of Intellectual Property in Health Research and Development, the guide will be publicly released on November 11 at "Good Practice in IP Strategies for R&D Institutions: Vital tools for driving the economy and promoting health equity" a conference sponsored by the Medical Research Council, MIHR and the Southern African Research & Innovation Management Association in Cape Town, South Africa.

The handbook, edited by Richard T. Mahoney, Arizona State University Professor of Health Administration and Policy, ASU Biodesign Institute research scientist, and Senior Advisor to MIHR, is an ongoing project of the centre, with updates planned for release on a regular basis. The handbook's "first issue" provides an overview of intellectual property management, including methods of evaluating intellectual property; a discussion of the licensing process and of how to use licensing to achieve public goals; spinouts and start-ups; licensing follow-up; and education and training needs for IP management. The book also provides some assorted supporting materials, including a glossary, a review of some existing IP management offices, a paper on bio-prospecting, a summary of some currently used IP policies, and a set of prototype agreements to be used as models.

"This handbook is primarily directed towards public sector research centers in developing countries," said Mahoney. "Some of those centers have highly sophisticated IP management capabilities, while others are enhancing those skills. For more developed centers, this handbook is intended to be useful in providing uniform approaches; for centers still developing their capabilities, it is intended to provide basic assistance."

The handbook is the product of contributions from a number of authorities in IP management from both developed and developing countries, including Tony Bates, Hans Feindt, Charles Gardner, Cathy Garner, Anatole Krattiger, Gianfranco Matteucci, Olga Moreno, Lita Nelsen, Joachim Oehler, Sibongile Pefile, Mark Rohrbaugh, R. Saha, K. Satyanarayana, David B. Schmickel, and Philip Ternouth.

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For more information on the handbook or on MIHR, contact Richard Mahoney at richard.mahoney@asu.edu or see http://www.mihr.org .

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