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Intellectual property army: Fighting wars and healing the world: The coexistence between medical innovation and public affordability

Lim, Clarissa (2013) Intellectual property army: Fighting wars and healing the world: The coexistence between medical innovation and public affordability. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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A major phenomenon that has stirred the raging debate over strong intellectual property patent protection for pharmaceuticals is the issue of access to medicines. Such ownership protection has frequently been criticized in both developed and developing countries to be at the expense of public interest. Strong patent protection by pharmaceutical companies on their products inherently leads to a rise in the costs of essential medicines, making them increasingly less accessible to the disease stricken populations.

This paper investigates the possibility of coexistence between patent protection of pharmaceuticals and the effective provision of medicine to the people who gravely need them, with special attention given to the poor in developing countries.
The importance of patents in our society is significantly emphasized in the research-intensive pharmaceutical industry, which is one of the most innovative industries in the world. The evolution and justifications of patents is traced through the conception of intellectual property laws under British influence and theories that have formulated over the years.

Secondly, the role of multinational pharmaceutical companies in fostering global patent protection and its role in improving the world’s health will be explored. Being largely profit-oriented, pharmaceutical companies have often neglected the wider public interests and contribute to the growing gap between patients and their necessary medicines and treatments.

Next, the international legal framework is a central aspect that has vastly influenced the effects of pharmaceutical patents. The consequential impacts of patents on pharmaceuticals are explored through the examination of international responses, including an in-depth case study of India. India is an example of a developing country that has reaped the benefits of strong patent protection with the appropriate measures, actions and domestic laws its government and other private interest groups have put in place.

Lastly, this paper will assert that the promotion of public health should not be disconnected from the promotion of pharmaceutical inventions. As the presence of incentives is essential in supporting a robust pharmaceutical industry, a multi-layered system comprising of realistic and practical solutions will be advocated as a potential and viable solution to attaining harmonization between medical innovation and public affordability.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Law
Supervisor: Shao, Ken
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