Health Care Costs
Issuing patents for medical processes can help protect research developments and encourage research, but the practice also contributes to higher health care costs, according to a policy paper in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The paper lists three types of medical process patents:
- "Pure process patents," related to protections on a medical procedure but no patented medical product;
- Patents related to the use of a patented medication or clinical device; and
- Patents on techniques used to develop substances or compounds.
The paper concludes that medical process patents have fostered innovation in some cases but should be used sparingly, saying that Congress might want to consider revising patent laws to help address health care costs (Kesselheim/Mello, New England Journal of Medicine, 11/9). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.