Professor Aisling McMahon invited to discuss her research on patents and health at the AHRC ‘Transforming Public Health’ workshop at the University of Edinburgh

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - 09:30

On 5th May, Professor Aisling McMahon gave an invited presentation on her research on the role of patents in the biomedical innovation context at an interdisciplinary workshop held at the University of Edinburgh. The workshop event was entitled “Transforming Public Health” and it was held as part of the AHRC funded project ‘Targeting Therapies: Exploring the Cultural and Normative Dimensions of 'Targeted' Approaches to Biomedicine and Public Health’ that is led by Professor Martyn Pickersgill (University of Edinburgh), Professor Susi Geiger (UCD), Dr Ilaria Galasso and Dr Sone Erikainen.

Professor Aisling McMahon’s paper was entitled “Patents, Pandemics and Public Health: Revisiting Patents Governance Role”. It revisited arguments she made in an article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics in 2020 where she argued that patents can be used by rightsholders to exercise private governance functions over elements of COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and medicines which can have significant impacts on access and delivery of healthcare. In this presentation, Professor McMahon reflected on lessons that can be learnt from how intellectual property rights operated in the COVID-19 context as private governance tools, the impact this had on public health in the COVID-19 context including on vaccine access and allocation. She argued that the role of IPRs in this context urgently needs to be addressed to ensure future pandemic preparedness.

Professor McMahon is the Principal Investigator on the ERC funded PatentsInHumans Project. You can find out more about the PatentsInHumans project by visiting the project website:

The PatentsInHumans project is funded by the European Union (ERC, PatentsInHumans, Project No. 101042147). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.