An empirical analysis of primary and secondary pharmaceutical patents in Chile

Produced by: 
National Bureau of Economic Research
Available from: 
February 2015
Paper author(s): 
María José Abud Sittler (School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University)
Bronwyn Hall (Santa Clara University)
Christian Helmers (NBER)
Topic: 
Education - Health
Year: 
2015

We analyze the patent filing strategies of foreign pharmaceutical companies in Chile distinguishing between “primary” (active ingredient) and “secondary” patents (patents on modified compounds, formulations, dosages, particular medical uses etc.). There is prior evidence that secondary patents are used by pharmaceutical originator companies in the U.S. and Europe to extend patent protection on drugs in length and breadth. Using a novel dataset that comprises all drugs registered in Chile between 1991 and 2010 as well as the corresponding patents and trademarks, we find evidence that foreign originator companies pursue similar strategies in Chile. We find a primary to secondary patents ratio of 1:4 at the drug-level which is comparable to the available evidence for Europe; most secondary patents are filed over several years following the original primary patent and after the protected active ingredient has obtained market approval in Chile. This points toward effective patent term extensions through secondary patents. Secondary patents dominate “older” therapeutic classes like anti-ulcer and anti depressants. In contrast, newer areas like anti-virals and anti-neoplastics (anti-cancer) have a much larger share of primary patents.

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