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Bringing Patients Access to Innovation Through Patent Reforms in Indonesia

This is the first blog in a series examining Indonesia’s intellectual property ecosystem.

Ensuring access to new technologies and medicines in Indonesia will require a variety of reforms, including remedying significant deficiencies with Indonesia’s Patent Law. Indonesia’s patent system poses significant barriers at every step of seeking, receiving, and enforcing intellectual property (IP) rights. Challenges include restrictive patentability criteria, lack of mechanisms to compensate for undue delays in the patent examination and regulatory approval processes, absence of regulatory data protection, and support for compulsory licensing.

Recent efforts to amend the Patent Law could improve Indonesia’s IP regime, including by providing patent term adjustment and restoration provisions to ensure innovators are not harmed by unreasonable delays with patent examination and regulatory approval processes.

There is a dynamic market for innovation in Southeast Asia, but reforms are needed to Indonesia’s patent system.

Two thirds of global patent activity in 2020 took place in Asia. But Indonesia falls behind many of its regional competitors in the length of time it takes to review patent applications and grant regulatory approval for medicines.

Delays at the Indonesia patent office and a lengthy regulatory approval process can significantly limit the effective period of protection for new medicines, and impacts the ability of Indonesian patients to access the latest medicines and therapeutics.

Patent term adjustment and restoration provisions, which are common to the laws of many Asia-Pacific economies, restore some of the patent term lost to patent office delays and lengthy regulatory approval processes. There is an urgent need for Indonesia to reduce the amount of time it takes for new medicines to be available to patients –  the current delay is approximately 1,600 days, among the longest in Asia.

Indonesia’s patent laws, revised in 2016, could be amended to ensure that innovators are not harmed by undue delays in the patent examination and regulatory approval process, consistent with international best practices.

Indonesia can also enhance work sharing programs between national patent offices, including through Patent Prosecution Highways (PPH). PPH arrangements allow a patent applicant that has received a favorable decision from a first participating IP office to request a fast-track examination of a corresponding patent application pending with a second participating IP office.

Indonesia can improve transparency in its regulatory and drug pricing decisions, including its medicine marketing approval decisions.

Data indicates Indonesia ranks low among global and regional competitors in innovation capabilities and outputs. In 2021, Indonesia ranked 27th among the 34 upper middle-income group economies and 14th among the 17 economies in Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania.

Collaboration between governments and the pharmaceutical industry has proven to be valuable as the world confronted the COVID-19 pandemic. Strong intellectual property rights and pro-innovation patent policies will help Indonesia provide better patient care, attract investments and be better prepared for the next global health crisis.

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