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Improving Health Innovation and Access to Medicines

In various national and international fora, solutions are sought in respect of the role of patents in pharmaceutical innovation and fair and affordable access to health care.

The patent system is designed to promote innovation and, at the same time, offer a mechanism ensuring that the fruits of that innovation are accessible to society. In the contexts of public health, the challenge for policy makers is to find an optimal balance between the rights of patent owners, who provide technological innovations to improve health conditions, and the needs of the general public. Finding this balance has often created controversy and debate.

The development of new drugs requires heavy investment and long-term research, coupled with expensive clinical trials and regulatory approval procedures. The exclusive right conferred by a patent is one of the incentives for developers of new drugs to make the necessary investments into that research.