World Intellectual Property Organization

Topics and issues: patents and health

Policy-makers have to find the right balance between the rights of patent holders who produce medical innovations, and the public who need access to them.

Efforts have been made to identify legal frameworks and practices under the patent system, which adequately balance incentives to innovate with access to health-related technology. Any such framework must take into account the interests of both technology holders and technology users.

The complexities involved with health innovation and access to medicines, however, require a holistic understanding of synergies between the patent system and other policy components. The interplay between trade policy, public health policy, procurement policy, the regulatory environment, innovation policy and intellectual property strategy, the market environment and other factors are critical to an understanding of patents and health.

In order to address these challenges, the WIPO’s Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) examines the role of the patent system in striking the right balance between innovation and technology access.

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