Dr Aisling McMahon has published an article entitled ‘Biotechnology, Health and Patents as Private Governance Tools: The Good, the Bad and the Potential for Ugly?” in the leading Intellectual Property Quarterly.
This article argues that patents, although often viewed primarily in terms of their economic or incentivising function, also have an important but often overlooked private governance function. This governance function can have a significant impact on access to and delivery of healthcare, and the article puts forward the case for greater consideration and probing of patent-holders’ private governance functions in the context of health-related biotechnologies.
The article draws on insights gleaned by Dr McMahon as a result of two funded projects, namely her British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant, SG163006,“Gene Patentability: A comparative institutional analysis of the US, Canadian and European Approaches” in (2017), and an Irish Research Council New Foundations Award “Patents and Biotechnology: Licensing as Ethical Governance?” in (2018).
Drawing on this work, Dr McMahon has published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics blog available here which highlights the significant governance function patents have in the context of Covid-19 arguing that greater consideration is needed of the power of patent-holders in determining access to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments.