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Investments in Pharmaceuticals Before and After TRIPS

Margaret Kyle () and Anita M McGahan

No 8371, CEPR Discussion Papers from C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers

Abstract: This paper addresses the relationship between patent protection and investment in the development of new pharmaceutical treatments. The TRIPS Agreement, which specifies minimum levels of intellectual property protection for countries in the World Trade Organization, has increased levels of patent protection around the world. Since patents also have the potential to reduce access to treatments through higher prices, it is imperative to assess whether wider use of patents has led to off-setting benefits, such as research on diseases that particularly affect the poor. Using variation across countries in the timing of patent laws and the severity of disease, we test the hypothesis that increased patent protection results in greater drug development effort. We find that patent protection in high income countries is associated with increases in research and development (R&D) effort; in other words, patent protection works in high-income countries to induce R&D. However, the introduction of patents in developing countries has not been followed by greater R&D investment in the diseases that are most prevalent there. Our results suggest that alternative mechanisms for inducing R&D may be more appropriate than patents for the "neglected" diseases that are concentrated in low-income countries.

Keywords: health; innovation; Intellectual property; pharmaceuticals; trade policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D22 F13 I11 L65 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011-05
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Related works:
Journal Article: Investments in Pharmaceuticals Before and After TRIPS (2012) Downloads
Working Paper: Investments in Pharmaceuticals Before and After TRIPS (2009) Downloads
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