Professor Graham Dutfield - Expanding the scope of patentability for personalised medicine: Have we gone too far?

Professor Graham Dutfield

Graham Dutfield is Professor of International Governance at the School of Law, University of Leeds. He is founder Director of both the LLM in Intellectual Property Law, and of the School's interdisciplinary Research Group on Emerging Technologies in Law and Society. He has published widely on various subjects including intellectual property and health, food, agriculture, development, and traditional knowledge. He has advised numerous governments and international organisations on their intellectual property laws and regulations.

Professor Graham Dutfield

This presentation reviews current trends in patent claims regarding personalised, stratified and precision medicine. These trends are not particularly well understood by policymakers, even less by the public, and are quite recent. Consequently, their implications for the public interest have hardly been thought out. Some see personalised and other secondary drug patent claims as promoting better targeted treatment. Others are inclined to see them as manifestations of ‘evergreening’ whereby companies are, in some cases quite cynically, trying to extend market monopolies in old products or creating new monopolies based on supposedly improved versions of such earlier drugs. My hypotheses are: (i) that the relaxation of ‘novelty’ is a privilege largely unavailable to inventions in other fields; and (ii) that on balance the patent system does privilege this industry and that no adequate case has yet been made thus far to prove the public benefits overall.