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Innovation Fact of the Week: IP Protections Spur Innovation, Contribute to Better Health Outcomes in Developing Nations

Medicines

(Editor’s Note: ITIF features an “Innovation Fact of the Week” in each edition of its weekly email newsletter. With this installment, we will begin featuring them here on Innovation Files, too.)

Stronger global intellectual property protection, such as the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS), which was signed in 1994, has helped spur innovation in health care and contributed to better health outcomes.

Although much work has focused on how the developed world has better health outcomes due to health care innovation, the developing world too has enjoyed overall welfare improvements. In the two decades following TRIPS ratification, improvements in life expectancy in lower-income countries more than doubled that of the global aggregate. The world’s average life expectancy rose from 66 years to 71 years, while lower income countries saw their average life expectancy increase by 10.5 years. In the previous 20 year-period, when there were less effective, if any global IP protections, life expectancy for lower-income countries increased by just 5.3 years.

Children also have been better off in the TRIPS era. With concurrent improvements in health care, infant mortality in lower-income countries has fallen by 50 deaths per thousand infants compared to 39 fewer deaths per thousand between 1975 and 1994.

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About the author

John Wu is an economic research assistant at ITIF His research interests include green technologies, labor economics, and time use. He graduated from the College of Wooster with a bachelor of arts in economics and sociology, with a minor in environmental studies.