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Sigman, Laura J. (2003)
Languages: English
Types: Unknown
Subjects: Food and Drug Law, public access, public welfare, public health, innovation, patents
Patent and antitrust laws impact public access to pharmaceuticals and medical technologies. Two instances—one involving Roche’s new class of HIV/AIDS drugs, the other an antitrust action brought against Boston Scientific Corporation for violations of an anticompetitive agreement pertaining to cardiac treatment technology—illustrate the salient effects that medical products can have on public welfare. This paper provides a summary of patent laws, including provisions designed to advance the public interest, and explains the economic motivations underlying the patent regime. It also discusses the rationale behind antitrust laws and describes how courts account for public welfare when imposing damages for anticompetitive behavior. While it is difficult to assess the value of benefits and harm to the public, particularly where public health is concerned, legal regimes should aim to balance interests of producers and incentives for innovation with public needs for access to pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
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