Academic patents and access to medicines in developing countries

Am J Public Health. 2009 Jan;99(1):9-17. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.128769. Epub 2008 Nov 13.


There is a widespread and growing concern that patents hinder access to life-saving drugs in developing countries. Recent student movements and legislative initiatives emphasize the potential role that research universities in developed countries could have in ameliorating this "access gap." These efforts are based on the assumption that universities own patents on a substantial number of drugs and that patents on these drugs are currently filed in developing countries. I provide empirical evidence regarding these issues and explore the feasibility and desirability of proposals to change university patenting and licensing practices to promote access to medicines in the developing world.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academies and Institutes / economics
  • Academies and Institutes / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Developing Countries / economics*
  • Drug Costs
  • Drug Industry / economics
  • Drug Industry / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Health Services Accessibility / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Property
  • Legislation, Drug*
  • Patents as Topic / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / economics*
  • Pilot Projects


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations