University of Tasmania
2013-05-27_PPR_Final_Report.pdf (3.31 MB)

Pharmaceutical Patents Review

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posted on 2023-05-25, 03:05 authored by Harris, T, Dianne NicolDianne Nicol, Gruen, N

The pharmaceutical industry relies on patents more than most: successful pharmaceuticals require significant prior investment in research and development (R&D), yet competitors can cheaply copy them once they are on the market. The patent system restricts such free riding giving patentees a period of market exclusivity. It allows a reward for past investments and, more importantly, provides incentives for continued innovation.

Patents also have negative effects. They may increase prices – and so restrict supply – by more than the amount required to provide the necessary incentives to innovate. These negative features are important because they impact on human health. And though innovators seeking to patent must disclose considerable information about their inventions - thus providing a platform to others for further innovation - patents can also restrict further innovation by increasing legal risks and constraining competition in follow-on innovation.

Thus the question of how much patent protection to offer is crucial. Pharmaceutical patent rights that run for too long or that are defined too expansively will deprive people of drugs because purchasers, including Governments, cannot afford them. They can also constrain follow on innovation: too weak a patent system means patients will suffer because the industry has inadequate incentives to develop new drugs.


Commissioning body

Commonwealth of Australia




Faculty of Law


Commonwealth of Australia

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Copyright 2013 Commonwealth of Australia Except for third party work attributed in the paper and the Coat of Arms, this copyright work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence.

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Socio-economic Objectives

Justice and the law not elsewhere classified

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