Nongovernmental organizations and certain middle-income countries argue that market-based drug development—reliant on intellectual property rights (IPRs) as its primary incentive—makes medicines too expensive. It fails, they say, to provide cures for those most in need but least able to pay. So, on the fringes of meetings at the World Health Organization and United Nations, they talk excitedly about a new model for drug development, in which research and development (R&D) costs are “delinked” from the final prices of drugs.
One of the main “delinkage” proposals is to replace the patent system with government-managed prizes. But as Phil Stevens and Stephen Ezell write in IPWatchdog, delinking the cost of R&D from the final prices of medicines and making governments the funders and planners of drug development would be rife with problems.