Lead Investigators: Josephine Johnston, Angela Wasunna
Funder:Sasakawa Peace Foundation
Explore the connection between intellectual property law, policy, and practice on access to current and possible future health benefits, focusing on two case studies: patenting and access to HIV/AIDS medications, and patenting and access to research materials such as genes and stem cells.
J. Johnston and A.A. Wasunna, "Patents, Biomedical Research, and Treatments: Examining Concerns, Canvassing Solutions," a special report in the Hastings Center Report (January/February 2007).
Guest Editors J. Johnston and A. Wasunna, "Biomedicine, Patents, and Access," a special issue of the International Journal of Biotechnology (2007, Vol. 9, No.2), which includes:
- A.A. Wasunna, “Brinkmanship and Compulsory Licensing: Policy Lessons from Brazil”
- S. Basheer, “India’s New Patent Regime: Aiding ‘Access” or Abetting “Genericide’?
- Y.K. Nkrumah and P.L. Osewe “TRIPS Compliance and Public Health: Opportunities and Obstacles for African Countries”
- J. Johnston, “Health Related Academic Technology Transfer: Rethinking Patenting and Licensing Practices.”
J. Johnston, “It’s Not about the Money,” Hastings Center Report 35, no. 2 (2005)
J Johnston, K M Maschke, “Bioethics for Technology Transfer Managers,” workshop at Annual Meeting of Association for University Technology Managers, Orlando, Florida, March 2006.
- Examine the debates over the role of patents in encouraging biomedical innovation and facilitating access to treatments.
- Articulate the obligations, if any, of those involved in biomedical research and treatment to exercise patents rights in a manner that facilitates further research and access to treatments.
- Consider and make recommendations on laws, policies, and practices that may encourage innovation and facilitate access.
Lessons and Findings
- Evidence is mixed as to patents’ role in biomedical innovation and access to treatments: they likely encourage further innovation, inhibit further innovation, encourage access to treatments, and inhibit access to treatments depending on the particular situation.
- People sometimes object to patents for reasons other than their impact on innovation and access; for example, they may believe that certain inventions should not be patented that a patent would offend core values, that the invention could do most good if it were freely placed in the public realm, or that the research leading to the invention was funded with public monies.
- Where the likely impact on access and innovation can be predicted, inventors and patent holders should consider patenting and licensing practices likely to facilitate both goals.
- Academic technology transfer office, research funders, and other organizations are working to adopt patenting and licensing practices that are sophisticated and flexible and that seek to promote health (part of what is sometimes known as a move towards “humanitarian licensing practices”).