The United Nations Development Programme has released a new publication, titled Guidelines for the Examination of Patent Applications relating to Pharmaceuticals, which aims at providing guidance for countries to enhance the functioning and transparency of the patent system for the timely and affordable access to lifesaving treatment. Affordable access to treatment is closely linked with the aspiration to ensure health and well-being for all, as embodied in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.
This publication examines initiatives in countries such as Argentina, Ecuador, India and the Philippines; which have taken steps to factor in public health considerations into the examination of patent applications. This approach recognizes the key role that patent offices and patent examiners play in safeguarding the appropriate balance between protecting the rights of inventors and incentivizing innovation, and promoting accessibility and affordability of treatments. The publication proposes a number of recommendations on guidelines that can be adopted as criteria for the examination of patent applications, so that the public health perspective is properly integrated into the procedures for the granting of patents on pharmaceuticals.