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Pharmaceutical Patents in Developing Nations: Parallel Importation and the Doctrine of Exhaustion

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AbstractThis article examines the impact of parallel importation and the doctrine of patent exhaustion on access to pharmaceutical products in developing nations around the world. Parallel importation is of particular relevance to developing countries given that it is in these countries where medicines are often limited and exorbitant prices can be charged for those drugs that are available. Against this backdrop, this article examines the international legal regulation of patent exhaustion and proposes a solution to the difficulties currently experienced by many developing countries in attempting to use parallel importation to promote public health and improve access to medicines. The solution proposed in this article comprises a regional approach to patent exhaustion, which involves the introduction of complimentary legal and policy measures to the regional framework that currently exists in the developing world. It is argued that this proposal strikes an optimal balance between protecting intellectual property rights and increasing access to medicines that works in the best interests of pharmaceutical patent holders and developing country patent users.

Affiliations: 1: 184 Phillip Street, Sydney, NSW 2000Autralia


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