Academic Patents and Access to Medicines in Developing Countries

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. This study provides empirical evidence regarding these issues and explores the feasibility and desirability of proposals to change university patenting and licensing practices to promote access to medicines in the developing world.

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