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Glob Public Health. 2012;7 Suppl 2:S127-43. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2012.725753. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

Access to medicines, market failure and market intervention: a tale of two regimes.

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Department of International Politics, Centre for Health and International Relations, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, UK.


This study explores how an 'Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)/trade regime' has generated a particular set of problems regarding access to medicines despite patents on drugs being presented as economically necessary for reward and future drug innovation. These problems have also inspired and informed activities by so-called new actors in global health. This study argues that a parallel 'pro-access regime' has developed in order to correct some of the most high-profile issues associated with a dysfunctional global pharmaceutical market, especially problems regarding price and innovation that have been exacerbated by stringent global patent rights on new drugs. Therefore, the IPR/trade regime's basic role in global-health governance diverges from how it has been framed and understood, not least of all by its constituent agents and donors. The pro-access regime encompasses new actors in health such as Global Health Partnerships (e.g., GAVI Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), major philanthropic foundations (e.g., the Gates and Clinton Foundations) and new access initiatives (e.g., UNITAID). The study problematises these actors' governance roles with respect to the overarching authority of the IPR/trade regime and makes a case that the two regimes should be understood as being closely connected with respect to the governance of access to medicines and the global political economy of pharmaceuticals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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