Trade, foreign policy, diplomacy and health

5. Genomics Knowledge

Halla Thorsteinsdottir, Abdallah S Daar, Richard D Smith, Peter A Singer

Intellectual property rights and patent legislation (2)

  • Patents act as barrier to further research and application of basic knowledge
  • Poor counties disadvantaged especially
  • GPGH concept highlights need for change in patent system: obvious role for international organizations

Patents thus act as a barrier to further research using this basic knowledge, and the application of such knowledge in products. The inability of developing countries to pay high prices for patented products means less incentive to invest in diseases of the poor. The GPGH concept highlights the need for a change in patent systems; to capitalise on private sector involvement, but ensure it is undertaken equitably. Eg through 'cross-licenses' to permit the patented technology to be used freely in specific countries or regions, shift the balance of patenting of genomics knowledge to the research exemption category. This is an obvious area for leadership by international organisations.