Seoul Journal of Economics
[ Article ]
Seoul Journal of Economics - Vol. 26, No. 1, pp.95-112
ISSN: 1225-0279 (Print)
Print publication date 28 Feb 2013
Received 16 Sep 2012 Revised 21 Dec 2012 Accepted 15 Jan 2013

Flexible Drug Patent Terms: A Proposed Mechanism to Stimulate Global Innovation and Health

Benjamin Charles Warren
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Liu Institute for Global Issues, Faculty of Arts & Honorary Post-Doctoral Fellow, School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, 6476 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver, BC, V6 T 1Z2, Canada, Tel: +1-778-999-2891

JEL Classification: O31, O34, O38


A major problem for humankind rests in the seemingly unresolvable competing vested interests found within the global patent system. Adequate access to medicines, particularly in developing countries, is necessary to promote health and ultimately, economic development, but the prolonged time period required for the successful R&D of novel products to make medicines available (one component of accessibility) means that private sector actors must be incentivized by being awarded exclusivity rights. This comes at the expense of affordability (the other component of accessibility). Clearly, reform proposals need to facilitate the finding of the balance that needs to be struck between incentives for drug development and access to medicines. This paper presents a theoretical proposal for global drug patent system reform that attempts to find the balance between these interests in the form of flexible patent terms.


Patent system, Intellectual property, Innovation, Access to medicines


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