Putting a price on patent doctrines: evidence from the PBS

Image of blister packs of medicines

Event details


Date & time

Tuesday 06 December 2016


Seminar Room 1.04, Coombs Extension Building (8), Fellows Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Hazel Moir


+61 (0)2 6125 3948

Despite the large literature on patents, there is very little empirical evidence on their impact. One issue that is almost entirely unexplored is the cost of the doctrines which have led to very low standards for the grant of a patent monopoly.

Indeed a standard response to concerns about poor quality patents is that they don’t cause any significant problems. Data from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) allow this sanguine view to be tested.

This exploratory study uses data from one medicine to explore the cost of granting low quality patents. Just 2 of the 61 low quality patents surrounding the original patent for a useful new chemical compound have delayed generic entry to the market for this medicine.

These data demonstrate a very significant cost to the taxpayer of doctrines which mandate a very low quantum on inventiveness for patent grant, The high cost to the PBS indicates the need for urgent reform of the patent system, PBS policy and perhaps also policies implemented by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

About the Speaker

After a lengthy career in the Australian Public Service (Bureau of Industry Economics, Austrade, Department of Social Security, and the Department of the Prime Minister & Cabinet), Dr Hazel Moir embarked on a second PhD (public policy) at the ANU.

Concerned about the equity impacts of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, she commenced an empirical study of patents. This identified that the standard for a patent grant is low. Her recent work on low patent standards puts a value on the high costs such standards impose on Australian taxpayers through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Since joining the Centre for European Studies in September 2014, she has been immersed in European trade treaties and has also looked in depth into the issue of geographical indications. She holds a number of degrees: PhDs in public policy (ANU) and demography (Brown); masters in human rights (Essex and Padua); and bachelors in economics (Cambridge).

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