Nature Middle East | House of Wisdom

Jordanian intellectual property protection may limit access to medicine

David Richfield

Jordan joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2000, which led to the country strengthening its level of intellectual property protection. A new study published in the Journal of Generic Medicines suggests that this may be harming Jordanians’ access to medicines due to a delay in the introduction of generic medicines into the market.

According to the research, this delay has cost private consumers in Jordan approximately US$18 million in 2004 in extra costs. In a study of medicines marketed in Jordan between 1999 (before joing WTO) and 2004, annual spending on medication in Jordan increased by 17%. Also, when comparing the prices of originator drugs and generic drugs in 1999 and 2004, the researchers found that generally, the prices for originator drugs have been increasing and the generic ones decreasing after Jordan’s entry into the World Trade Organization.

Intellectual property protection is an incentive for companies to invest in new innovations and spur development. However, this study, along with others, argue that stronger protection schemes can limit access to medicines in the developing world. The researchers suggest that Jordan should amend its current regulatory scheme on data protection. Currently, the Jordanian law prevents approval of generic applications that rely on originator approval. The researchers suggest this needs to be changed, making the fact that an originator drug was approved enough for the generic to get an approval as well.

Prior studies have suggested that the stronger intellectual property protection may be helping the Jordanian economy. According to Intellectual Property Watch, a report by the International Intellectual Property Institute (IIPI) in August 2004 suggested that the a significant expansion in the country’s economy between 1998 and 2001 was due to better IP protection. The report also noted that pharmaceutical exports from Jordan expanded 30% from 1999 to 2002.

In conclusion, the report authored by Abbott, R. et al. suggest that nations considering to enter into agreements to strengthen their intellectual property protection for pharmaceuticals should be aware of the negative impact this can have on developing world coutnries. ” This risk should be carefully balanced against possible benefits such as tariff reductions and increased foreign direct investment.”

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