Professor Scott Hemphill Awarded Grant to Study Generic Drug Makers, Barriers to Cheaper Medicine


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New York, Nov. 29, 2010— The effects of legal efforts by generic drug makers to gain a bigger foothold in the $300 billion U.S. pharmaceutical industry, and whether they provide more access to cheaper medicine, will be studied under a grant awarded to Columbia Law School Professor C. Scott Hemphill.

The research, to be conducted by Hemphill and Assistant Professor Bhaven Sampat of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, are among 13 research projects funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study the public health impacts of laws and regulations.
“Drug patents provide an incentive to develop new drugs, but patented drugs are often expensive and they block the sale of inexpensive generic copies,” Hemphill said.

Generic firms have grown active in challenging the validity of drug patents over the past two decades, in an effort to enter the market prior to expiration of the patent, Hemphill said.
“We’ll take a look at these legal challenges and how they affect the entry of generic drugs and access to medicines,” Hemphill said. “It’s our hope these analyses will help inform current policy debates about how well pharmaceutical patent laws and regulations balance innovation and access.”
“The results of these studies are helping us build the evidence that policy-makers can use to understand how laws and regulations affect public health—not just laws aimed at specific public health issues,” said Michelle Larkin, the foundation’s public health director.
Hemphill, who joined the Law School faculty in 2006, has a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he graduated first in his class. He has extensively researched the balance between innovation and competition set by intellectual property law, antitrust law, and other forms of regulation.
Sampat, an economist by training, has also done research in this area. His projects have included an examination of the political economy of the National Institutes of Health, the effects of patents on access to medicines in India, and the interactions between patent laws and FDA regulation in the pharmaceutical industry.
Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins its traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, criminal, national security, and environmental law.
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