Author Affiliations: Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.
As a government-sanctioned monopoly, a drug patent allows its owner to prevent others from making, using, or selling a given medication for a set amount of time. Patents can help encourage and reward scientific innovation in the pharmaceutical industry. But some drug companies have been criticized for restricting access to products in the face of actual or potential public health emergencies1 or distorting the patent system in pursuit of higher revenues.2
Kesselheim AS, Avorn J. Biomedical Patents and the Public's HealthIs There a Role for Eminent Domain?. JAMA. 2006;295(4):434-437. doi:10.1001/jama.295.4.434