Pharmaceutical Patents and the Human Right to Health: The Contested Evolution of the Transnational Legal Order on Access to Medicines
Transnational Legal Orders (Terence C. Halliday & Gregory Shaffer, eds. 2015)
29 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2016 Last revised: 27 Apr 2016
Date Written: 2015
Disputes over the regulation of access to medicines are occurring in multiple transnational, national, and local venues. Competing groups of states and non-state actors shift horizontally and vertically among these forums in an effort to develop competing legal rules over the propriety of granting intellectual property (IP) protection to newly developed life-saving drugs.
This chapter applies the framework of Transnational Legal Orders (Terence C. Halliday & Gregory Shaffer, eds. 2015) to explain the origins of these controversies and their consequences. The chapter argues that the current state of affairs arose from a clash between two previously discrete TLOs — one relating to IP protection (patent protection for new drugs) and the other concerning the right to health (a right of access to essential medicines). As a result of these conflicts, contestations now occur simultaneously and sequentially in multilateral, regional, bilateral, and domestic forums. For many governments, the unfortunate consequence is a marked diminution in the domestic policy space available to regulate access to medicines.
Keywords: patents, medicines, TRIPS, health, right to health, regime complexity, transnational legal orders
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation