Patents, Monopoly and Impact on Access to Healthcare

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Patents, Monopoly and Impact on Access to Healthcare | As days are passing by, competition is increasing rapidly. Due to this, many companies are rising, and because of that, many small companies are unable to sustain, and thus are shutting down, even after immense hard work and investments. It had also been found that many companies try to steal the innovation made by other companies. Due to this, the recognition gets transferred to the other company, which might be a hard competitor too.

Due to this, protection of the invention is very important for the benefit of the company, that is, by patenting it. Patenting means, protecting the innovation made by a company or an individual, so that, it is not stolen by some other company or a person. Patents are protected for 20 years.

Innovations and discoveries cannot be stopped, and those are immensely necessary for the betterment of the country and hence the world. It boosts the economy to a large extent. If the innovations and discoveries are not protected, then those will be stolen, just like the way, a famous scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose’s innovation of Radio research was stolen by one of his competitors, James Clerk Maxwell, a Scottish theoretical physicist.

Intellectual Property Rights, especially, patents are considered to be the preliminary to the pharmaceutical industry as the industry solely depends upon the innovation that can be later monetized in the future, by selling it in the market.

In other words, patents are considered to be an exclusive right, granted for an innovation which is novel and non-obvious to a person/entity skilled in the art to which the invention related to. Therefore, Intellectual Property Rights give at least 70%-80% revenue to the company, which is quite high.

In case of a pharmaceutical industry, innovation lays a major impact and they focus immensely on the Research and Development (R&D), which incurs a huge cost, because there lays no cent per cent guarantee that it will be an exceptional one and hence will be successful. Intellectual Property Rights helps to save time, money, and other resources as these are guaranteed for a limited period of time.

It also adds to the economic development of the country. Also, it helps to promote a healthy competition between other companies, and thus helps to enhance the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). It is also a well known proverb that health is wealth, but due to the increased prices of healthcare products and services, it has become difficult and it pinches the customers’ pockets to buy those.

The prices are immensely high because of high import duties, increased tax slabs, unrealistic demand, and supply chain. Due to these, there has been a surprisingly high mortality rate, which is constantly increasing.

Due to the rising number of innovations, the quality of the healthcare facility tends to have a plus point there. Due to this, the quality of the healthcare facility tends to rise. It is because, the reaction is much faster.

Also, in terms of healthcare facilities, the quality of services is much high and are safer, as compared to the public service healthcare. Therefore, monopoly is important for the betterment of the people.

Patenting and monopoly go hand in hand. Therefore, due to the rise in monopoly, patenting has become a necessary, from the perspective of the manufacturer. So, in the economy, a huge virtual gap has been drawn, between those who can avail the resources and those who can’t.

This is known as Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). Therefore, those who don’t have the resources to avail the healthcare service and the products, are moved to a corner and are left out.

Due to the rise in monopoly, there has been a substantial rise in deaths because, as mentioned that the marginal and the lower income group do not get the necessary healthcare service and care that is mandatory for the betterment of the people.

Therefore, there has been a sharp rise in the mortality rate and many people are dying with a short lifespan, though if provided a proper facility, then either their lifespan will increase to a certain extent, or they might be fully cured too.

A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) was found that India ranks third after Myanmar and Bangladesh, that fails to provide a proper healthcare facility to its citizens. Also a study in the year 2011 that was reported in the journal, “The Lancet” on the topic ‘Healthcare and Equity’ had confirmed that, at least 39 million people fall in the category of the poverty line due to private- out- of- pocket expenditure.

It has also been found out that a vast population do not have the access to proper healthcare facility. Hospitalisation charges, cost of medicine constitutes at least 74% of the total expenditure, where the cost is divided between the drug manufacturer, numerous middlemen, like wholesalers, retailers, stockists and the pharmacists. The National Sample Survey indicated that, the drugs that were being supplied between the years 1986-1987 had declined drastically from 32.20% to 8.99% in the year 2004.

Also in the year 2004, it had been found that at least one-fourth of the patients did not receive proper life saving drugs, and it had rose to 12.11% and gradually thereafter. Therefore, several patented medicines are beyond the reach of the majority of the Indians. Countries like Japan and European Union, in India, more pressure will be formulated, if the prices keep on rising.

The people who are below the poverty line are mostly affected as it becomes difficult for them to afford and goes down the path. If the government takes proper steps like decentralization method of distribution, pooled procurement, and a system of standard treatment, then it will lead to massive savings and no delay in the procurement of the medicines.

Written By 

Kinkini Chaudhuri

Amity University Kolkata

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