Kristina M. L. Acri née Lybecker Image

Kristina M. L. Acri née Lybecker

is an Associate Professor of Economics at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, and Chair of the Department of Economics and Business. She earned a B.A. from Macalester College, with a double major in Economics and Latin American Studies, and received her Ph.D. in Economics in 2000 from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr.Acri’s research analyzes the challenges surrounding intellectual property rights protection in innovative industries: incentivizing pharmaceutical research and development especially on neglected diseases, addressing the difficulties of strengthening intellectual property rights protection in developing countries, battling the problems related to pharmaceutical counterfeiting and the unique nature of protection for biotech therapies. Recent publications have also addressed alternatives to the existing patent system, the balance between pharmaceutical patent protection and access to essential medicines, and the markets for jointly produced goods such as blood and blood products. Kristina has testified in more than a dozen states on the economics of pharmaceutical counterfeiting. She has also worked with US Food and Drug Administration, Reconnaissance International, PhRMA, the National Peace Foundation, the OECD, the Fraser Institute, the Macdonald Laurier Institute, and the World Bank, on issues of innovation, international trade, and corruption.

Recent Articles by Kristina M. L. Acri née Lybecker

State Pharmaceutical Importation Programs Threaten Patients and Innovation

In mid-December, President Trump presented a plan to lower prescription drug prices by allowing states, drug wholesalers and pharmacies to import some cheaper drugs from Canada. While reducing the cost of medicines is a laudable goal, pharmaceutical importation programs – if implemented safely and effectively – would fail to deliver the promised savings. And if implemented without the necessary safeguards, they would endanger the lives of countless patients. The plan essentially relies upon importing price controls from Canada, which will both undermine innovation and prove unsustainable. As with many “simple solutions” the devil is in the details. Not surprisingly, the Trump Administration’s plan contains very few details on implementation. And it is precisely those details that are expensive and complicated.

India’s Patent Law is No Model for the United States: Say No to No Combination Drug Patents Act

The United States is on the brink of making changes to the U.S. patent law that would be modeled on India’s Patent Law. At a Senate Judiciary Committee markup scheduled for tomorrow, June 27, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) plans to offer language as an amendment in the form of the No Combination Drug Patents Act. The language of the bill would prohibit the patenting of new forms, new uses and new methods of administration of new medicines unless the patent applicant can show “a statistically significant increase in efficacy”. This language is oddly similar to India’s Section 3(d), something the Trump Administration’s U.S. Trade Representative has complained “restricts patent eligible subject matter in a way that poses a major obstacle to innovators” (see here, page 49). Other Senators have also weighed in against “a generally deteriorating environment for intellectual property” in India (see here), including Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Judiciary Committee members Mike Crapo (R-ID), Amy Klobuchar(D-MN)and Chris Coons (D-CT).

Undermining Innovation Is Not A Victory: Hepatitis C Drug Center Stage in Global Patent Battle

Thanks to a number of new Hepatitis C drugs (Sofosbuvir Ledipasvir, Ladispavir) the disease is curable for many patients. While this is an undeniable victory for patients and payers, the innovators who made this possible have been villainized and undermined. At a time when the public health community should celebrate the tremendous health benefits these breakthrough drugs have brought to patients around the world, they are instead organizing to ensure the destruction of the incentives that made these drugs a reality. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2% – 3% of the world’s population is living with hepatitis C. The World Health Organization states that globally an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection and approximately 399,000 people die each year from the disease.

Embrace IP That Works: Importance of Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs) in the European Union

The European Union suffers from an investment deficit relative to other industrialized nations. A recent report by the European Commission emphasizes this impact, “the EU needs to put in place better incentives and conditions for businesses to innovate” in important areas such as market regulations, intellectual property rights protection, barriers to entrepreneurship, and ease of doing business. Given this, encouraging investment is essential to future growth. Weakening the IP incentives embedded in SPCs would be a step in the wrong direction.

Renegotiate NAFTA to Make it the Gold Standard in IP Protection

As President Trump embarks on the renegotiation of NAFTA, it is critical that we seize the opportunity to make it the gold standard in intellectual property rights protections… The stakes are tremendous and cannot be ignored.  In total, it is estimated that intellectual-property theft costs the United States approximately $600 billion per year.  A recent New York Times article notes that this is the “greatest transfer of wealth in history”.

Superbugs Require New Weapons: Strong, Effective Intellectual Property Rights May Be Our Best, Last Hope

The dangers of killer germs and superbugs are not limited to bird flu in China, Ebola in West Africa, Zika in South America and MERS in the Middle East… If we are to have a fighting chance against superbugs and pandemics, we must invest in innovation and safeguard the property rights that incentivize these discoveries. Short-sighted efforts to enervate existing intellectual property rights laws and policies will not only damage incentives to innovate, they may hand a victory to the superbugs.

Focus on Stronger IP Incentives: Price Setting is Not the Cure for Healthcare Spending

The WHO is gathering governments, academics and activists in Amsterdam next month to discuss price setting options for medicines. But the so-called Fair Pricing Forum ignores the main driver of higher healthcare spending and will do more harm than good. While there is a pressing need to balance access to affordable medicines and the incentives to innovate, a reactionary focus on prices is misdirected and could have dire consequences for pharmaceutical innovation… The WHO’s exclusive focus on price setting also misses the mark on another issue – medicines are working to extend lives and even to lower overall healthcare spending by eliminating the need for more expensive interventions, such as surgery and hospitalization.

Counterfeit Medicines and the Role of IP in Patient Safety

Given the devastating impact of counterfeit medicines on patients and the importance of intellectual property protection in combating pharmaceutical counterfeiting, it is troubling that the UN High Level Panel seems poised to prevent a series of recommendations that will undermine public health under the guise of enhancing access. Without the assurance of quality medicines, access is meaningless. Moreover, while falsely presenting intellectual property rights as the primary obstacle to global health care, the High Level Panel downplays a host of other factors that prevent developing country patients from getting the drugs they need: inadequate medical infrastructure, insufficient political will, a shortage of clinical trials in nations where neglected diseases are endemic, poverty, and insufficient market incentives.