Breaking Patents Won’t Help Egyptian Patients
Egypt has the largest patient population in the Middle East and North Africa and plays an increasingly pivotal role in the research, development and manufacturing of new medicines. The country hosts more clinical trials for new treatments than any other in the region.
But hasty action in Cairo could put these gains at risk. In January, the Egyptian government formed a special committee to take away patents that protect new medicines and other valuable inventions.
Such drastic action – known as “compulsory licensing” – would enable special interests to make, use, sell or import the invention.
Breaking a patent is like breaking a promise. And it is not an effective way to improve health outcomes for Egyptians.
In fact, it can further delay patient access to innovative treatments, limit the ability of inventors to bring new medicines to market and drive up drug costs.
According to research, treatments produced under compulsory licenses can cost 25% more than those acquired through standard international procurement mechanisms.
Further, compulsory licensing has been shown to undermine local economic growth and deter investment in research and development toward new cures for patients who need them.
Instead of breaking promises, government officials should work to strengthen patent protections that foster economic growth and improve patient access to innovative treatments.
By working together, the Egyptian government and private sector inventors can develop solutions that meet today’s health care needs without undermining future innovation.