The effects of patenting pharmaceutical products on access to medicines in developing countries are relatively recent as these countries have only been mandated by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) rules to grant patents on pharmaceuticals since 2005. As a result there are a limited number of empirical studies documenting these effects.
However, patents grant the patent holder a monopoly on the market that allows the blocking of price-lowering generic competition and the raising of prices which restricts affordable access to medicines. Where patent and other intellectual property (IP) barriers do not exist, generic competition has proven to lower prices of medicines. The attached memo provides numerous examples where intellectual property rules stronger than those required by TRIPS have raised the cost of medicines.