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The Introduction of Pharmaceutical Product Patents in India: "Heartless Exploitation of the Poor and Suffering"?

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  • Jean O. Lanjouw
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    Abstract

    The decision to require that countries grant product patents for pharmaceutical innovations as a condition of membership in the World Trade Organization was very contentious. Almost 50 developing countries were not granting patent monopolies for drugs during the period the Uruguay round of GATT was being debated and these countries fiercely resisted the inclusion of this requirement, claiming that vastly higher drug prices would be associated with such patents. On the other side, business interest in the West urged them to consider the benefits such protection might bring both in terms of focusing more research on tropical diseases and encouraging greater domestic and foreign investment in local research activities. This paper discusses the various theoretical implications for a developing country of introducing product patents for pharmaceuticals. Using India as an example, it then brings together information gathered from both published sources and personal interviews to examine the potential magnitude of these effects. While not arriving at a conclusive answer to the question posed in the title, there are some suggestions about the way events might unfold as the policy is implemented.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6366.

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    Date of creation: Jan 1998
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6366

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    1. Helpman, E., 1992. "Innovation, Imitation and intellectual Property Rights," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1597, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    2. Diwan, Ishac & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Patents, appropriate technology, and North-South trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 27-47, February.
    3. Arora, Ashish, 1996. "Contracting for tacit knowledge: the provision of technical services in technology licensing contracts," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 233-256, August.
    4. Jong-Il Kim & Lawrence J. Lau, 1996. "The sources of Asian Pacific economic growth," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(s1), pages 448-54, April.
    5. Jean O. Lanjouw & Mark Schankerman, 1997. "Stylized Facts of Patent Litigation: Value, Scope and Ownership," NBER Working Papers 6297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jaffe, A.B. & Trajtenberg, M., 1992. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," Papers 14-92, Tel Aviv.
    7. Chin, J.C. & Grossman, G.M., 1988. "Intellectual Property Rigths And North-South Trade," Papers 143, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
    8. Deardorff, Alan V, 1992. "Welfare Effects of Global Patent Protection," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 59(233), pages 35-51, February.
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