How to Search for Patents on Medicines

Press Release 20 Sep 2010

Continuing with the theme of my last post, public health actors regularly discuss the issue of how to search for patents on medicines. This includes NGOs, government bodies and procurement agencies. Very few organisations have the ‘in-house’ expertise on how to conduct such searches.

Given the absence of teaching materials on this subject, I have written a a step-by-step guide on how to conduct patent searches on medicines. The guide was written on behalf of the World Health Organization (South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions).

Primarily written for beginners, the guide may also be useful for those who want to build on their basic understanding of the subject.

Using screenshots, live examples are provided on how to search for pharmaceutical product patents listed on the US FDA Orange Book and the Health Canada Patent Register. Based on this information, the guide demonstrates how to trace the corresponding patents in other countries.

Additionally, introductory techniques on how to expand on Orange Book/Health Canada patent searches are provided, including keyword and citation searching. Such techniques are important to find comprehensive information on the various patents covering a single product. Although by no means exhaustive, the guide attempts to provide as much information as possible on how to navigate currently available patent office databases and patent office journals.

The guide has now been published and can be downloaded here or here. Alternatively, if you would like a hard copy, send a request here.

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