Global Access to Medicine: The Influence of Competing Patent Perspectives
Fordham International Law Journal, Vol. 34, 2011
83 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2011
Promoting access to affordable medicine for poor countries is considered important by a wide range of actors, including not only rich and poor countries, but also public health advocates, patent owners, and scholars. However, promoting access has been a challenge. Public health advocates argue that access to medicine is increasingly difficult due to changes in domestic and international laws that limit access to unpatented and low-cost generic drugs by expanding the scope of patent rights. Patent owners and some countries deny these claims while simultaneously advocating for more expansive patent rights as necessary to promote innovation and development. This article addresses this seemingly intractable problem by building upon social science research to show that interpretations of laws and facts are significantly influenced by differing views of patent policy. This article illustrates the impact of differing views by exploring recent events involving seizures of in-transit generic drugs. Depending upon one’s perspective, these seizures may be characterized as either justified policing of counterfeit drugs or as a clear violation of international law. An examination of the power of these perspectives provides important insights that can be harnessed to ultimately promote access to affordable medicine.
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