Pharmaceuticals and intellectual property rights: A political economy of the recent policy changes across the developing world and in Turkey

İpek EREN VURAL

Abstract


This paper explores the sources of the recent policy changes from weaker to stronger intellectual property regimes (IPRs) for pharmaceuticals across the developing world, and in Turkey. Analysing the policy change from a political economy approach, the paper argues that the increased structural power of the transnational capital in the 1980s had been the most important common factor in setting the ground for changes in the IPRs for pharmaceuticals across the developing world. Against the state-centric theories that interpret the policy change primarily as a matter between the nation states from developed and developing countries, the paper contends that the nature and scope of policy outcomes on pharmaceutical IPRs have been shaped by the dynamics of the class struggles across the developing world. The latter argument is supported through an analysis of the Turkish public policy processes and outcomes which resulted in strengthening the IPR for pharmaceuticals. The paper concludes that rather than a mere external imposition on the ‘’Turkish state’’ by the advanced capitalist countries or the European Union (EU), the policy change in favour of stronger IPRs for pharmaceuticals was sustained and shaped by the Turkish conglomerate capital which pursued reintegration with the transnational capital as a political strategy.

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