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Importance of the intellectual property system in attempting compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals: A cross-sectional analysis

Importance of the intellectual property system in attempting compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals: A cross-sectional analysis
Son K.-B.
Ewha Authors
Issue Date
Journal Title
Globalization and Health
1744-8603JCR Link
Globalization and Health vol. 15, no. 1
Access to medicinesCompulsory licensingIntellectual propertyPatent system
BioMed Central Ltd.
Document Type
Background: Recently, interest in compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals has been growing regardless of a country's income- level. We aim to investigate the use of compulsory licensing as a legitimate part of the patent system and tool for the government to utilize by demonstrating that countries with a mature patent system were more likely to utilize compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals. Methods: We used a multivariate logistic model to regress attempts to issue compulsory licensing on the characteristics of the intellectual property system, controlling for macro context variables and other explanatory variables at a country level. Results: A total 139 countries, selected from members of the World Trade Organization, were divided into a CL-attempted group (N = 24) and a non-CL-attempted group (N = 115). An attempt to issue compulsory licensing was associated with population (+) and a dummy variable for other regions, including Europe and North America (-). After controlling for macro context variables, mature intellectual property system was positively associated with attempting compulsory licensing. Conclusions: Our study provided evidence of an association between attempting compulsory licensing and matured patent systems. This finding contradicts our current understanding of compulsory licensing, such as compulsory licensing as a measure to usurp traditional patent systems and sometimes diametrically opposed to the patent system. The findings also suggest a new role of compulsory licensing in current patent systems: compulsory licensing could be a potential alternative or complement to achieve access to medicines in health systems through manufacturing and exporting patented pharmaceuticals. © 2019 The Author(s).
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