Like many in Big Media, Big Pharma has a role in the intellectual property debate, which escalated this week with Wikipedia and some other web sites going dark and other sites protesting proposed legislation being discussed in Congress.
The House bill is called Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate bill is Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
The issue boils down to stealing content - text, images, video, anything - from a web site without the original creator's permission. Most of the attention went to movie and TV producers, which don't want their shows taken without compensation. The laws would allow those producers to move to shut down sites taking their material.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), one of the trade groups for big pharmaceutical companies, has lobbied for the bills on the grounds that it wants to protect its property against counterfeit drugs.
In October, Senior Vice President Matthew Bennett issued the following statement regarding the introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act:
"PhRMA applauds the introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act and looks forward to working with Chairman [Lamar] Smith [Rep. R-Tex.] and members of the House Judiciary Committee on an issue critical to innovation in the U.S.
"America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies invest billions of dollars each year researching and developing new medicines, and they depend on strong and reliable IP protections to continue their important work in research labs across the nation. Intellectual property rights afforded to America’s pharmaceutical research companies help them recoup their incredible investments in the discovery of new medicines, and give them a chance to survive and fund further research in a highly competitive environment.
"In trying economic times, it is important that sound policies support America’s innovative industries – which employ millions of Americans – by protecting the intellectual property on which they depend.”