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How Do Drug Patents Work: Types & Role of Drug Patents

how do drug patents work

Patents are one of the major forms of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the pharmaceutical industry. The validity of medicine protection is around 20 years. Its responsibility lies with inventors only, who bring this medicine to the market. The scientific progress slowly works due to the secrecy of the ideas and results of the drug patents. Here in this article, you will learn how do drug patents work and what are the types of pharmaceutical drug patents and their roles.

Now, we are going to provide brief information on drug patents with their types and basic laws.

Overview of Drug Patents with its Types and Roles

The word ‘patent’ is derived from the Latin word ‘patere’, which identifies the availability for public inspection in the pharma industry. Patent allows to granting right to a patent holder for the development of medicinal drugs.

Drug patents are the patents in which the United States Trademark Office grants an exclusive right to stop using the same approaches for the invention of drugs.

The Patent Act, of 1970 defines the term ‘invention’. The term ‘invention’ allows the development new product or process, which is capable in the pharmaceutical industry. For example: Temazepam was patented in 1962 as a generic medication and is available under the brand name Restoril. Below are the roles of drug patents available in the pharmaceutical industry.

Types of Pharmaceutical Drug Patents

There are several types of pharmaceutical drug patents. These include as following:

  • Polymorph patents: This patent protects the improved version of the original drugs in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Patents of drug compounds: The chemical structure of drug compounds protects other companies from preparing similar drugs.
  • Biotechnology patents: These patents involve biological materials or living organisms to prepare products in the pharmaceutical company.
  • Synergistic combination drug patents: In this patent, the inventor protects the new synergistic combination of drugs.
  • Technology patents: This type of patent solves technology-based problems, which include stabilization, solubility, etc. In this type of patent, inventors stop sharing the same formula with other people as they are used for the development of drug patents.

Role of Drug Patents in the US Pharma Industry

The role of drug patents in the United States (US) pharma industry includes:

1. Award a Patent Application

After filing a patent application, an individual receives a patent. According to the US government, the inventor must describe the inventions in ascending order. The patent application will be awarded if there is no opposition to the pre-granted application. After the patent application is granted, some inventions provide royalties to the application.

2. Compulsory Licence of Patent

It is one important role of drug patents to allow licence agreements in the pharmaceutical sector. The licence agreement provides facilities in the industry.

The patent technologies, which include drug manufacturers, are often licensed by the pharmaceutical industry in the United States of America. It is beneficial for both the parties. The licence fees increase the revenue of the patent holder. When a drug patent expires, the manufacturers will produce low-cost medicines. This provides the accessibility to life-saving drugs.

3. Innovation Encouragement

The promise of exclusive rights granted by the patents is a powerful encouragement in the United States of America (USA). This encouragement heavily invests in research and development.

The development of new drugs and therapies has become a lengthy process in the pharmaceutical industry. It often requires financial resources. The encouragement of patents to the companies is to take risks for the development of drugs. This provides the potential for substantial profit to the company.

4. Information Disclosure

The pharmaceutical companies disclose their inventions’ details publicly in exchange for the rights granted by the patent. This collects information on drug inventions in the field. It allows other researchers to work on several existing innovations in the medical field.

5. Innovation Balance and Medication Access

Patenting drugs cause an increase in prices that allows monopolistic power to a patent holder in the pharmaceutical industry. This challenges the patients to afford necessary treatments. The main objective of this industry is to maintain a balance between encouraging innovations and providing low-cost medicines. It is a complex challenge for the pharmaceutical industry in the United States.

6. Competition Protection

Patents provide protection among competitors from creating similar drugs or therapies. This protection is important for pharmaceutical companies to allow a high level of competition and innovation for the development of medication drugs.

7. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Protection

Patents provide Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to the pharmaceutical company, which prevent others from selling, using or developing inventions without permission of the company. This prevention is important for companies, which allows them to invest in research and development. It allows the companies to assemble their financial rewards from drug patents.

8. Encourage Incremental Improvements

The patent system suggests pharmaceutical companies allow the continuous improvement of existing drugs and the development of new drugs. The additional patents for improvement or new uses are filed by the companies to extend exclusivity and maintain a competitive edge over the drugs.


This blog describes the working of drug patents in the pharmaceutical industry in 8 ways. These roles involve the development of drugs in this industry. It promotes the long-term stability of the patients and meets their needs in the healthcare department.

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