Access to Medicines: The Colonial Impacts on Patent Law of Nigeria

21 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2011

Date Written: December 22, 2011


This article explores the colonial impact on the patent law of Nigeria. The colonial and historical past of the country and the introduction of patent law were not based on the justifications for patent law, but for the beneficial interest of the colonial masters which was the sustenance of the raw material needs of the industrial West. This lopsided objective heralded Nigerian independence, leading to inconsistency in policy articulation, formulation and implementation, and remains a factor that continues to affect the public health sector. In this respect, and in the context of fighting against HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases, inventing and developing pharmaceutical products is both necessary and indispensable. However, an understanding of the colonial impact would place greater burden on reassessing the internal problems and reforming the patent legislation. It advocates that the Nigeria Intellectual Property Commission (NIPCOM) Bill needs to be reappraised as a reform option that would shed the burden of patent law imposition and enhance access to drugs and health care in Nigeria.

Keywords: Access to medicines, colonial law, patent law, public health, NIPCOM Bill, Nigeria, Paris Convention, TRIPS Agreement

JEL Classification: K39

Suggested Citation

Umahi, Okechukwu Timothy, Access to Medicines: The Colonial Impacts on Patent Law of Nigeria (December 22, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Okechukwu Timothy Umahi (Contact Author)

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

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