What is the International Landscape of Essential Medicine Patent Protection and How Can Developing Countries' Medicine Access be Accelerated Within It?

Title: What is the International Landscape of Essential Medicine Patent Protection and How Can Developing Countries' Medicine Access be Accelerated Within It?
Authors: Beall, Reed
Date: 2017
Abstract: This project is at the controversial intersection of medicine patent protection and access to medicines at the international level. Advocates for medicine access argue that medicine patent protection may allow prices to become elevated, thereby frustrating medicine access. But advocates for medicine patent protection argue that the patent system incentivized the research and development to make the product possible in the first place. While this ideological debate is valuable, this doctoral project acknowledges the patent system’s existence and seeks to produce research to advance medicine access pragmatically within this context, especially in developing countries and especially for drugs appearing on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines (MLEM). In cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization, this project commenced with a legal study to assess the patent status of the entire MLEM (375 medicines) in 137 developing countries. Gathering these patent data and verifying them with global pharmaceutical suppliers was this project’s principal data collection. The patent data were further linked to development indicators of the countries implicated by our study and to economic data detailing medicine procurements made by those working with assistance from international organizations. Building upon the techniques refined during the MLEM study, three supplementary patent studies were performed to investigate very specific questions regarding medicine patenting and medicine access. With these patent data collected, we investigated companies’ medicine patent filing behaviours internationally. Various policy approaches to accelerating access at the international level were compared, including those that disregard patent protection and those are based on cooperation between medicine suppliers. Of the approaches considered, the cooperative approaches appeared to be the most efficient, especially voluntary licensing practices (i.e., originator companies license generic manufacturers to supply the product to developing countries in exchange for royalties). We find that while patents may detour generic competition at times, we also find they may serve as springboards for collaborative endeavours and global medicine access campaigns, like the one for HIV drugs. This thesis concludes by arguing that improved international medicine patent transparency by pharmaceutical suppliers is one of the most powerful ways to foster such collaborations to improve medicine access.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/35727
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -