Patents Associated with High-Cost Drugs in Australia

22 Pages Posted: 16 May 2013

See all articles by Andrew F. Christie

Andrew F. Christie

Melbourne Law School

Chris Dent

Murdoch University - School of Law

Peter McIntyre

RMIT University

Lachlan Wilson

University of Melbourne

David M. Studdert

University of Melbourne - Faculty of Law & Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences

Date Written: May 15, 2013

Abstract

Australia, like most countries, faces high and rapidly-rising drug costs. There are longstanding concerns about pharmaceutical companies inappropriately extending their monopoly position by “evergreening” blockbuster drugs, through misuse of the patent system. There is, however, very little empirical information about this behaviour. We fill the gap by analysing all of the patents associated with 15 of the costliest drugs in Australia over the last 20 years. Specifically, we search the patent register to identify all the granted patents that cover the active pharmaceutical ingredient of the high-cost drugs. Then, we classify the patents by type, and identify their owners. We find a mean of 49 patents associated with each drug. Three-quarters of these patents are owned by companies other than the drug’s originator. Surprisingly, the majority of all patents are owned by companies that do not have a record of developing top-selling drugs. Our findings show that a multitude of players seek monopoly control over innovations to blockbuster drugs. Consequently, attempts to control drug costs by mitigating misuse of the patent system are likely to miss the mark if they focus only on the patenting activities of originators.

Keywords: pharmaceutical, drug, patent, evergreening

JEL Classification: K00, K39

Suggested Citation

Christie, Andrew F. and Dent, Chris and McIntyre, Peter and Wilson, Lachlan and Studdert, David M., Patents Associated with High-Cost Drugs in Australia (May 15, 2013). PLoS ONE, Vol. 8, No. 4, 2013; U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 636. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2265703

Andrew F. Christie (Contact Author)

Melbourne Law School ( email )

University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Victoria 3010
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://www.andrewchristie.com

Chris Dent

Murdoch University - School of Law ( email )

United States

Peter McIntyre

RMIT University ( email )

Lachlan Wilson

University of Melbourne ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

David M. Studdert

University of Melbourne - Faculty of Law & Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053
Australia

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