The Effects of Intellectual Property Rights on Access to Medicines and Catastrophic Expenditure

The Effects of Intellectual Property Rights on Access to Medicines and Catastrophic Expenditure

Joung, Youn; Soonman Kwon

intellectual property right; access to medicines; TRIPS; catastrophic expenditure
International Journal of Health Services, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 507 - 529
Journal Title
International Journal of Health Services
Since the introduction of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 1995, there has been considerable concern that poor access to essential medicines in developing countries would be exacerbated because strengthening intellectual property rights (IPR) leads to monopoly of pharmaceutical markets and delayed entry of lower-cost generic drugs. However, despite extensive research and disputes regarding this issue, there are few empirical studies on the topic. In this study, we investigated the effect of IPR on access to medicines and catastrophic expenditure for medicines, using data from World Health Surveys 2002–2003. The index of patent rights developed by Ginarte and Park (1997) was used to measure the IPR protection level of each country. Estimates were adjusted for individual and country characteristics. In the results of multilevel logistic regression analyses, higher level of IPR significantly increased the likelihood of nonaccess to prescribed medicines even after controlling for individual socioeconomic status and national characteristics associated with access to medicines. This study’s finding on the negative impact of IPR on access to medicines calls for the implementation of more active policy at the supra-national level to improve access in low- and middle-income countries.
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