A PATENT PRIZE SYSTEM TO PROMOTE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW ANTIBIOTICS AND CONSERVATION OF EXISTING ONES

Mark Nickas

Abstract


Antibiotics are valuable drugs that fight bacterial infections, but our supply of antibiotics is at risk. Existing antibiotics gradually lose their effectiveness due to bacterial resistance, and few new antibiotics are being developed to replace them. A variety of models have been proposed to promote the conservation of existing antibiotics or incentivize private actors, i.e., drug companies, to develop new ones. Previous models, however, all encourage investment in antibiotic research and development via patent rights, which also create an incentive to oversell antibiotics. Because the inappropriate use of antibiotics accelerates the development of resistance, patent rights put the public health objectives of antibiotic development and conservation in tension with one another. This article proposes an antibiotic-specific patent prize system that uncouples the two policy objectives necessary to achieve a stable antibiotic supply. Although others have proposed patent prize systems to promote drug development generally, the system described here is tailored to address the unique features of antibiotic markets.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5195/tlp.2012.98

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