Patents and Health at the World Health Organization
Engage Volume 8, Issue 3, June 2007
June 3, 2007Mark F. Schultz, Christopher Frericks
Are patents bad for public health? Despite the vast number of fundamental public health challenges facing the world, the eff ect of the patent system on public health has emerged as a key focus of policy discussions at the international level. A coalition of NGOs and developing nations has raised objections to strong intellectual property protection in a number of international organizations. The issue of patents and access to essential medicines—particularly anti-retroviral drugs needed to combat the HIV virus—has been particularly contentious, spurring urgent calls for action to help the developing world. This article summarizes recent developments at the World Health Organization (WHO), which is currently examining the eff ect of patents on public health....