Patent Protection Requirements For Medicines Must Consider Public Health Dimension

Inter Press Service: Opinion: The Grant of Patents and the Exorbitant Cost of “Lifesaving” Drugs
Germán Velásquez, special adviser for health and development at the South Centre

“…[T]he number of patents obtained annually to protect truly new pharmaceutical products is very low and falling. … The major problems can be identified in the current use of the patent system to protect pharmaceutical innovation: reduction in innovation, high prices of medicines, lack of transparency in research and development costs, and proliferation of patents. … The application of patentability requirements for medicines, given their public health dimension, should be considered with even more care than in the case of regular merchandise or luxury items. The first and most important step is to use the freedom permitted by the TRIPs Agreement to define the patentability requirements: novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability (utility) in a way that keeps sight of public interest in the wide dissemination of knowledge” (11/10).