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TRIPs Has Delivered: Patent Agreement Increases Drug Development

November 27, 2013
The TRIPs (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) Agreement, effective in 1996, has resulted in multiple benefits for public health. The last blog post reviewed Progressive Economy’s finding of TRIPS at 20. One additional benefit not mentioned in the article is the explosion of molecules in clinical development.

The World Intellectual Property Indicators - 2012 Edition reveals an overall growth in patent applications around the world. The report finds that patent applications “worldwide doubled from approximately 1.05 million in 1995 to around 2.14 million by 2011.”  Likewise, patent grants have “recorded uninterrupted growth since 2001.” Patenting in biopharmaceuticals has largely followed this trend.

What did we get with all of that patenting?

Increased patenting activity appears to be highly correlated with significant growth in the number of molecules in clinical development. Pharmaprojects reports that there was 4,792 drugs in development in 1998. In 2010, 8,617 drugs are in development, representing growth in each clinical phase of development. A chart summarizing these results is found here.