Adam Houston


For years, there has been vigorous debate over the relationship between intellectual property and health, especially in the context of pharmaceutical patents. Despite numerous attempts to strike a balance between innovation and access, however, few have looked to Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for guidance. Article 27, and its further elaboration and codification under Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, explicitly address this balance by pairing the right of everyone “to share in scientific advancement and its benefits” with a similarly universal right of authors to “material interests resulting” from their innovations. This article explores weaknesses of current approaches to the debate over “patients versus patents.” It then attempts to reframe the debate through the lens of Article 27 and its integral balance of rights, and illustrate the utility of adopting this approach.