Market Competition in Aid of Humanitarian Concern: Reconsidering Pharmaceutical Drug Patents

Posted: 23 Jun 2009

See all articles by Michael P. Ilg

Michael P. Ilg

University of Calgary - Faculty of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper


The grant of monopoly patent protection is justified normally as a means for giving incentive for innovation. Market driven innovation is not necessarily equitable, however, and the development concerns over the international intellectual property regime governing the products of medical research are particularly pressing given the basic necessities involved. The market patent system may be said to fail individuals in developing countries in regards to both focus and access; as no incentive is given for research into maladies not present in wealthy marketplaces; or even if a medicine is universally required, then access is precluded economically from the poor.

The following paper considers recently popular prize fund alternatives to the patent system, and arrives at a new alternative that is based upon market reward and the retention of patentability. The proposal offered attempts to incorporate global health measures into a competitive system of tradable patent terms. Under this proposal pharmaceutical advances which serve a humanitarian purpose would receive a patent term that is severable from the originating idea or formula, so as to become a free-floating and tradable patent term. Discoveries of humanitarian medicines, or their donation, may in this manner achieve market value through the trade and application of the floating protection term to another, more commercially viable pharmaceutical product. Ideally, this proposal would serve to equate advances of a humanitarian and non-market nature with the most lucrative market drugs, and to further have blockbuster drug sales indirectly finance humanitarian advances.

Keywords: intellectual property, prize, market, humanitarian

Suggested Citation

Ilg, Michael P., Market Competition in Aid of Humanitarian Concern: Reconsidering Pharmaceutical Drug Patents. CLEA 2009 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Michael P. Ilg (Contact Author)

University of Calgary - Faculty of Law ( email )

Murray Fraser Hall
2500 University Dr. N.W.
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics