Global health care spending is predicted to reach $10 trillion USD during 2022 with almost 30% of it belonging to the USA. It might sound like a good industry to be in, but keep in mind that the costs of developing a new drug range from $300 million up to $3 billion USD. Without patent protection surely there would be almost no incentive for companies to take this risk. A patent gives the right assurance to a company that after taking the FDA approval, their efforts will be financially worthwhile. Otherwise, the new invention would be copied from the competition and their product would have a much lower cost since they didn’t spend anything on the initial research and development. As examples of patent protection contributing to the advancement of health, we can mention the antiulceratives, which have solved the problem of ulcer disease which previously had only treatment for the symptoms or required surgery. Antiretroviral drugs are another example that have made possible the transformation of HIV infection from a fatal disease into a chronic one. The list goes on with vaccines, different antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs etc. On the other hand, there are people that blame the patent system for not being effective during health crises such as the covid pandemic. One company having the exclusivity of manufacturing and selling a vaccine will take much time in order to produce all the vaccines needed for entire populations. Furthermore, it’s a fact that after a drug patent expires, the costs of the drug manufactured by other competitors, fall up to 50% but it’s tough to calculate if the patent protection raises the price on drugs or this is the compensation for the research and development costs. As for the cases of global crises where the quick delivery of the drugs is essential, everything can be remedied with licensing agreements or other measures already available within the patent protection system. As a conclusion, it’s quite obvious that patent system drives innovation forward even in the healthcare industry, while as for several issues or potential downsides of patent protection, there are many solutions available within the patent protection system.
How do you think the healthcare industry would look like without patent protection?