Canadian researcher Richard Gold says strict patenting regimes intended to spur innovation are, in fact, having the opposite effect.
"The old [intellectual property] approach of the biotechnology community has failed to deliver on its potential to address disease and hunger in both developing and industrialized nations. We need to do better, and the [information technology] world has shown us part of the solution," said Gold. "Look at the way that change has swept through the IT world and brought benefits to millions."
Gold said he expects the pharmaceutical companies to lead the charge for change.
"I have talked to biotech executives who say the message we are giving is the right one, but [they] cannot afford to say so openly."
He called for more public-private partnerships to share risks during early stages of research, and more patent pooling during the later stages of development and commercialization.
Groups such as the Canadian Health Coalition have long argued that Canada's patent system needs an overhaul.