Terminally Ill and Patents
There was a recent article in the New York Times about a legal fight over the access rights to research drugs. Basically, the drug known as Iplex was removed from the market due to a patent dispute, and was not for sale to the public anywhere in the world.
In today’s health industry, patients have a considerable amount of access to research medicine. Keep in mind that prior to the establishment of national health departments medicine, such as the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there were few regulations for the creation, testing, or distribution of drugs. Medical companies at that time could provide research drugs without knowing the major risks or implications associated with the drugs. In many cases, a drug might reduce the symptoms of an illness or disease, but would have severe side effects that would harm or even kill the patient.
This article raises the question of whether the regulations should be overridden in cases of terminally ill patents, whose very survival depends on untested drugs and unregulated procedures. Would this be a step back for patient safety, or open another avenue for survival? Should a person die while waiting for permission to use drugs whose “owners” are embroiled arguments over patent rights? How should international patent rights be handled?
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