Lessons to learn from the patent cliff

Patents are running out on blockbuster drugs in an industry that makes up a third of Ireland's GDP, writes Tina-Marie O'Neill.

6th January, 2013
Pharmaceutical manufacturing: when patents for many drugs expire, generic manufacturers can produce and sell the drug at lower cost. Photo: Bloomberg

Over the past week, the world has been convulsed by the issue of the US fiscal cliff. But in Ireland, it is the so-called patent cliff that continues to concern policy-makers for the country's biggest export industry, pharmaceuticals.

The patents for many drugs produced in Ireland expire after 20 years. When this happens, generic manufacturers can produce and sell the drug at lower cost. The result is a sharp fall in revenue to the drug's...

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