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At the Mercy of a Few: Patents, Market Concentration and Global Access to Medicines

Market concentration in high-technology industries has become a subject of interest to scholars and policy analysts. This talk presents some of the first empirical results on how the patenting system contributes to market concentration in the pharma and chemical sectors globally.

Please RSVP
 Thursday February 21, 2019 at noon

Harvard Law School Wasserstein Hall
Room 2009 (Second Floor)
Cambridge, MA 02138

Abstract: Despite the vigorous strengthening of the global intellectual property system in recent years, not only in industrialized economies like the USA but also in the developing world, there have been limited attempts to measure the impact of such intellectual property rights, especially patents, on market concentration. This seminar provides a first empirical assessment on how the patent system contributes to market concentration in three key sectors – pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and ICTs. It shows that patents lead to greater returns for affiliates of U.S. companies in the developing country markets in the study, namely, India, China, and Brazil, but has no impact on R&D intensity. A number of questions for intellectual property policy and competition policy are examined, along with implications for access to medicines and drug pricing.

Slide presentation:

Padmashree Gehl Sampath, Fellow, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University


Mark Wu, Henry L. Stimson Professor at Harvard Law School. His research focuses on international trade law, including issues concerning emerging economies, digital trade, intellectual property, trade remedies, environment, and investment. Wu is a Faculty Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. He serves as a member of the Faculty Advisory Committees of the East Asian Legal Studies Program and the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. He is also a Faculty Associate of Harvard University’s Center for the Environment.


About the Speaker

Padmashree Gehl Sampath is a leading expert on trade policy, innovation policy and economic development. She works at the United Nations in Geneva and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Aalborg, Denmark, and is currently a 2018-2019 fellow at the Berkman Klein Center, Harvard University. She has worked on issues of IP and access to medicines for over two decades, as an academic and in the UN system, serving first as an expert to WHO’s Committee on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Public Health in 2005 and then leading WHO’s EU funded project on technology transfer, local production and access to medicines in 2009-2010. She has authored several white papers on the topic, as well as been as consultant to various donor UN agencies on the topic of promoting capacity building in African and Asian countries to improve drug pricing, access to medicines and health innovation. She is the author of five books, several journal publications and book chapters. 



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