The AAPS Journal

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp E306–E311 | Cite as

Intellectual property policy in the pharmaceutical sciences: The effect of inappropriate patents and market exclusivity extensions on the health care system

  • Aaron S. Kesselheim


Though patents are effective tools for promoting innovation and protecting intellectual property in the pharmaceutical sciences, there has been growing concern about 2 important ways that patents in this field can have a negative effect on patient care and the practice of medicine. First, inventors can seek and receive patents on pharmaceutical products or research tools that stretch the statutory requirements for patenting. Second, patent holders in the pharmaceutical market can used legal loopholes or aspects of the patent registration system to extend exclusivity for inventions beyond what was anticipated by the Patent Act or subsequent legislation. The monopoly control bestowed by such inappropriate patents or manipulation of the patent system can limit options available to patients, increase the cost of health care delivery, and make cooperative research more difficult. In response, several different government and market-based efforts have emerged to promote more equitable patent policy in health care that encourages dissemination of ideas while still supporting the development of innovative products.


Patent intellectual property health care costs innovation 


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Copyright information

© American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women's HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolBoston

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