Easing Drug Patents
July 21st, 2009 - 4 Comments
The Economist reports that drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Roche are relaxing patent restrictions on their pharmaceuticals to allow for greater access to the drugs in poorer countries. “Health care activists have long maintained that the system for granting patents on drugs denies the poor access to essential medicines and discourages pharmaceutical firms from collaborating to develop new ones for neglected diseases.”
According to Smeal’s Daniel Cahoy,the international rules outlining when and how governments may “break” pharmaceutical patents also reduce incentives for innovation, in addition to failing to increase access to medicines in poor nations. In his 2007 paper “Confronting Myths and Myopia on the Road from Doha,” Cahoy proposes a new, compensation-based approach to drug patent compulsory licenses, which force drug patent holders to relinquish their property rights during a time of crisis.
Cahoy’s proposed licensing regime keeps innovation incentives intact, but also ensures that developing countries have access to pharmaceuticals.
During public health crises, he argues for a three-tiered arrangement, in which remuneration is based on the economic status of the country issuing the compulsory license. Industrialized nations will be required to pay full market price, even during a pandemic. Developing countries would be allowed a limited free ride, with royalties based on the individual country’s ability pay. Finally, the world’s least developed countries would be granted the ability to issue royalty-free compulsory licenses during health emergencies.
More on Cahoy’s plan is online here.News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.