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The World Health Organization estimated that in 1999 roughly one-third of the world's population lacked access to essential medicines that would have saved or improved…
The World Health Organization estimated that in 1999 roughly one-third of the world's population lacked access to essential medicines that would have saved or improved their lives. Our analysis focuses on how pharmaceutical product patents restrict access to essential medicines in developing countries. It is well established that pharmaceutical product patents provide little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to develop new medicines designed to treat diseases prevalent in developing countries or to market in developing countries those patented medicines developed to treat diseases prevalent in developed countries. Economists have developed theoretical models showing that these incentives could be changed if (1) developing countries provided intellectual property protection for new pharmaceutical innovations and (2) an international regulatory framework were established to facilitate pharmaceutical companies setting lower prices in developing countries and higher prices in developed countries for patented medicines. We develop an index of property rights in pharmaceutical innovations covering 129 countries from 1960 to 2005. It shows that in 1960 only a handful of countries provided significant protection for pharmaceutical innovations, but by 2005 over 95 percent of countries in our sample provided significant statutory protections. However, an international framework to allow pharmaceutical companies to price discriminate has not been put in place. We conclude that international price discrimination mechanisms, compulsory patent licenses, and regional patent buyouts are not viable mechanisms for providing access to essential medicines to patients in developing countries. Global patent buyouts are more likely to achieve this goal, as they are not founded on an impractical separation of pharmaceutical markets in developing and developed countries and they provide critical incentives to develop new essential medicines.
In the last two decades the subject of intellectual property rights (IPR) took on major significance as an element of global trade regulation and commercial policy. Implementation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 obliged member countries, over various transition periods, to adopt and enforce minimum standards of protection for patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and related policies. This mandate forced legislative and administrative changes in virtually all countries, but had particular impact in developing nations, which had generally weaker IPR standards prior to TRIPS. Since 1995 there have been additional multilateral negotiations, largely at the World Intellectual Property Organization, over stronger global standards for patents and copyrights for digital electronic goods. Most controversially, in its negotiations of bilateral free trade areas the United States aggressively demands highly rigorous standards, beyond those called for in TRIPS, for patent rules governing pharmaceutical products and new biotechnological goods in the agricultural and life sciences.
The British North American colonies were the first western economies to rely on legislature-issued paper monies as an important internal media of exchange. This system…
The British North American colonies were the first western economies to rely on legislature-issued paper monies as an important internal media of exchange. This system arose piecemeal. In the absence of banks and treasuries that exchanged paper monies at face value for specie monies on demand, colonial governments experimented with other ways to anchor their paper monies to real values in the economy. These mechanisms included tax-redemption, land-backed loans, sinking funds, interest-bearing notes, and legal tender laws. I assess and explain the structure and performance of these mechanisms. This was monetary experimentation on a grand scale.