Viewpoint: Patent bill sponsored by Coons would aid drug development


heffronBy Rich Heffron

As the local economy changes, we must protect Delaware’s new innovators

In light of continuing layoffs at DuPont, it is crucial for Delaware to create new high paying jobs. One way to foster development in Delaware is to ensure protections are in place for those originating important new ideas.

Medical innovation is a booming sector of Delaware’s economy and researchers at Invion, a Wilmington drug development company, are currently testing a new inhalable, long-term treatment to relieve asthma.

The medicine could bring relief to 25 million Americans suffering from this lung disease. Developing new solutions requires clinical trials to allow researchers to test the effectiveness of new medicines. Our state is home to over 130 promising trials. This is good news for patients, doctors, researchers and Delaware’s economy. Hosting such clinical trials contributes $24 million to the State’s economy.


For innovators to continue to attract investment however, proper protections must be in place. This is particularly important for medical investment due to the time and resource intensity. According to a 2014 study by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, bringing a drug to market requires a staggering $2.6 billion investment and over ten years of research and testing.

Unfortunately for continued investment, Congress appears poised to consider H.R. 9, misleadingly titled The Innovation Act. The legislation nobly aims to address “patent trolls.” However, the bill was poorly crafted and as written, it would result in forcing legitimate patent holders to engage in costly and lengthy legal battles to defend their inventions from intellectual property theft.

To appropriately address patent trolling, whereby patents are used as legal weapons to force settlements from innovators even when their product does not infringe, Delaware Senator Christopher Coons introduced a rival bill – the STRONG Patents Act. Sen. Coons’ proposal eliminates the aforementioned flaws of the Innovation Act by strengthening legitimate patent protections and zeroing in on patent trolls.

Delaware’s bioscience industry is primed for growth, but misguided patent law reforms could paralyze innovation and critical medical research. Please encourage your representatives to support true patent reform and vote no on H.R. 9.

 Heffron is the President of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.


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