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Breaking the Fence: Can Patent Rights Deter Biomedical Innovation in 'Technology Followers'?

The impact of patent protection on biomedical innovation has been a controversial issue. Although a 'medical anti-commons' has been predicted as a result of a proliferation of patents on upstream technologies, evidence to test these concerns is only now emerging. However, most industrial surveys that shed light on this issue are mainly from developed countries, making it very difficult to predict the impact of patenting on biomedical innovation in developing and least developed countries. This paper develops a framework of analysis for the impact of patent rights on biomedical innovation in 'technology follower' developing countries. Based on the framework developed in the paper, empirical data collected in an industry-level survey of the Indian pharmaceutical industry between November 2004 and January 2005 is used to analyze the impact of patent rights as recognized under the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) on biomedical innovation in technology followers.