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Patent rules must not hinder access to cheap drugs in poor countries, experts say

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d1219 (Published 22 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1219
  1. John Zarocostas
  1. 1Geneva

New ways are needed to enable manufacturers to produce cheaper, generic products while ensuring that innovation is encouraged through appropriate patent protection, experts say. This would ensure that public health systems in poor countries can provide universal access to lifesaving drugs, they argue.

The patent status of drugs is becoming a pressing issue for healthcare providers, as the production of a growing number of drugs is affected by stricter intellectual property protection being imposed in countries that are major producers of generic drugs, such as India.

Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, warned that stricter rules will reduce access to affordable drugs for the world’s poorest people. She was speaking …

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