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Beyond the Binary: Rethinking Intellectual Property Law for Pharmaceutical Access in Africa

The pivotal role intellectual property plays in the development and distribution of pharmaceutical therapies and vaccines was thrown into stark relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the exact nature of what this role is and how it should best be managed remains hotly contested, resulting in a widespread call to modify international intellectual property laws. At the heart of these calls is a tension in how to re-balance the need to encourage timely innovation of new therapies, while at the same time ensuring equitable access to essential pharmaceuticals—something that is particularly significant during a public health crisis. Despite this, most of these discussions, to date, have proven largely unsuccessful in stimulating any real change. Dr Tolulope Adekola’s presentation will attempt to move beyond these unsuccessful debates that pit innovation against equitable access to medicine by considering what is needed to reimagine intellectual property to support the creation and delivery of new therapies, both in times of crisis and times of calm in Africa.

Dr Tolulope Adekola is a Research Fellow/Lecturer at the TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland. His research focuses on the role of intellectual property law in vaccine development and distribution. More generally, he is interested in issues pertaining to facilitating access to vaccines on equitable and affordable terms. Prior to joining the University of Queensland, he held research positions at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Germany, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Beyond the Binary: Rethinking Intellectual Property Law for Pharmaceutical Access in Africa

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