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Patents and intellectual property in orthopaedics and arthroplasty

Authors
  • Uzoigwe, Chika Edward
  • Shoaib, Ahmed
Type
Published Article
Journal
World Journal of Orthopedics
Publisher
Baishideng Publishing Group Co (World Journal of Orthopedics)
Publication Date
Jan 18, 2020
Volume
11
Issue
1
Pages
1–9
Identifiers
DOI: 10.5312/wjo.v11.i1.1
PMID: 31966964
PMCID: PMC6960299
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

The provision of musculoskeletal services comes at a cost. This is, in part, due to the expense of patent-protected orthopaedic implants. However, patents have a finite lifespan. Patents of the most successful implants are now beginning to expire. They will be exposed to competition from generic but equivalent implants. The net effect is potentially a dramatic diminution in cost. One company, Orthimo, has taken advantage of this and begun manufacturing generic implants with identical design specifications to the most bio-durable hip prostheses. This will ultimately have a radical impact upon musculoskeletal healthcare provision with regard to cost and accessibility. The expiration of drug patents, with the subsequent use of generic drugs saves £7.1 billion annually in the United Kingdom and $254 billion in the USA. Estimates suggest the introduction of equivalent implants could result in an annual cost saving to the United Kingdom National Health Service of £120 million. Intellectual property remains an enigmatic area of law. It encompasses anodyne principles that seek to protect innovation but are open to manipulation and exploitation. The last decade has seen the emergence of undesirable practices in the medical industry such as "patent trolling". Here we explore patents and their repercussions for musculoskeletal care.

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