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Patent law reform seeks to claw back clinical research

The government has announced plans to amend patent laws so that researchers and companies conducting clinical studies do not run the risk of being sued for patent infringement.

If passed by parliament, the change will mean that preparing or running clinical or field trials that test a new drug against a patent-protected one for the purpose of gaining regulatory approval will be exempt from infringement. The exemption also covers health technology assessments, which, among other things, test whether the drug works and whether it is better than an existing treatment.

Science minister David Willetts said in a statement that the proposed change marks an “important step” for life sciences in the UK. “This will make the UK a more attractive location for research and development,” he said.

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