Abstract – Incorporating a right to health perspective into the resolution of patent law disputes

Emmanuel Kolawole Oke

Health and Human Rights 2013, 15/2


This article adopts the view that the courts in developing countries can play an important role in improving access to medicines in their countries if they incorporate a right to health perspective when adjudicating patent cases involving pharmaceutical products. The article argues that, since patent rights are not human rights, they should not be allowed to trump the right to health. The paper examines two notable cases decided by the courts in Kenya that illustrate the crucial role that incorporating a right to health perspective can play in improving access to medicines. Finally, the paper provides five reasons why courts in developing countries cannot afford to ignore the right to health when adjudicating cases involving patent rights on pharmaceutical products.