Biomedical innovation reached a new era during the COVID-19 pandemic as drug development went into overdrive. But the ways that brand companies license their patented drugs grant them market monopoly, preventing other entities from making generics so they can exclusively profit. This significantly limits the reach of lifesaving drugs, especially to low- and middle-income countries, or LMICs.
I am an economist who studies innovation and digitization in health care markets. Growing up in a developing region in China with limited access to medications inspired my interest in institutional innovations that can facilitate drug access. One such innovation is a patent pool, or a "one-stop shop" where entities can pay one low price for permission to make and distribute all the treatments covered by the pool. My recent research found that a patent pool geared toward public health can spur not only generic drug access in LMICs but also innovation for pharmaceutical companies.