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Intellectual Property Rights, Innovative Activity and Development [2008/10]

Project Team: Dr Nagesh Kumar and Dr Sachin Chaturvedi

In the last few years, limitations of the current patent regime have become obvious, particularly in the context of public health emergencies, most notably the AIDS crisis, which pits the vital needs of poor patients against the need of pharmaceutical companies to recoup their investments in research and development. Amending the current system represents one of the major 21st century challenges, namely delivering reasonably priced health care to patients around the world. This is a challenge that lies at the heart of biomedical ethics striving for sustainable world development. Besides other studies on IPRs and innovation in developing countries, the RIS was invited to join a consortium of institutions in different countries seeking to develop a plan for amending the current Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime (being called P-2) for rewarding pharmaceutical innovations without compromising the interests of the poor patients.

The project is supported by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme for Science and Society. The project consortium has representations of institutions from Asia, Europe and the US. Apart from the RIS in Asia, there are two more institutions from China (National Research Centre for Science and Technology for Development, Beijing) and the Philippines (National University of the Philippines). The institutions from Europe include University of Central Lancashire, UK, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Centre d’éthique clinique at Hôpital Cochin, Paris and Wageningen University, the Netherlands. In order to forge a policy consensus, the project has some of the most influential social philosophers and economists associated with it. These include Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Professor Peter Singer, University of Melbourne, Professor Arjun Sengupta and Professor Thomas Pogge (Yale University).

The RIS hosted an informal meeting of the partner institutions on the sidelines of the international conference on access and benefit sharing in March 2008. The project was formally launched in August 2008.