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Tripping Over Health: U.S. Policy on Patents and Drug Access in Developing Countries

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Publication Date: November 2008

Publisher(s): Center for Global Development

Author(s): Carsten Fink; Kimberly Elliott

Special Collection: Presidential Advisory

Topic: Health (Pharmaceutical services)
Law and ethics (Intellectual property, copyright, patent, and trademark law)

Keywords: Presidential transition; Drug Patents

Type: Brief

Coverage: United States

Abstract:

This White House and the World Policy Brief presents key facts and recommendations drawn from Chapter Eight of The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President.

The United States can play an important role in promoting global development while simultaneously advancing American interests and prosperity. Intellectual property (IP) rights, such as patents and copyrights, provide protection against unauthorized copying and are therefore fundamental to creating a policy environment conducive for innovation. But this protection creates challenges for developing countries by limiting access to needed products and by misaligning incentives for innovation. The next U.S. president should come down clearly in favor of a new policy that better balances public health needs in developing countries with private incentives for innovative activities.