“Evergreening," medical innovation and patents: separating fact from fiction

February 4, 2020

The extent to which follow-on pharmaceutical innovations should be protectable by patents is hotly debated amongst the public health and IP community in Geneva. But are fears that follow-on patents simply extend indefinitely, or “evergreening,” medicine patents justified?

Drawing on global experiences and real-world evidence, this working lunch examined what exactly is follow-on pharmaceutical innovation, how it impacts public health, and whether national patent laws should treat it differently to other forms of medical innovation.

The common theme amongst participants that “evergreening” is a problematic concept, and that follow-on innovations have produced real benefits for patients, and the ability to secure patents has been a critical incentive to underpin R&D in these areas.