A second set of issues for the conference arises from the role of intellectual property rights and other incentive mechanisms in the development of specific fields; patents, the strongest form of intellectual property rights, are known to have serious shortcomings and may not even be the second-best solution in some fields of biomedical innovation, nor should they be uncritically viewed as a panacea to the diffusion problem. The conference will discuss how new strategies to set incentives for innovation and diffusion, such as the academic model of “open source,” can play a greater role in biomedical research and development, especially in view of the need to improve the flow of knowledge between universities and private industry.
A third set of issues arises from the diffusion problem, broadly defined as spanning the whole value-chain from the inventor to the consumer of health care services that incorporate biomedical innovations. Diffusion in this broad sense is bound to be affected by a variety of critical policy choices, such as in the design of regulations for clinical trials, in the definition of information and efficacy requirements for biomedical product approvals, and in the pricing and reimbursement decisions of social health insurance and national health systems. Our conference will provide the forum to discuss how these choices and other organizational issues in biomedical innovation can and should be resolved within countries and at the international level – from a European and from a global perspective.