Objective, Coverage and Learning Outcomes:
This public lecture aims to address the unequal distribution of diseases worldwide, particularly between wealthy and poor countries. The objective is to propose legal reforms to improve access to vaccines and medicines, reducing inequality and unnecessary loss of life. The lecture covers the influence of intellectual-property law on access to drugs and outlines the most promising reform proposals currently being considered by scholars and lawmakers. The learning outcome is to understand the role of legal reforms in improving access to vaccines and medicines, particularly in relation to intellectual property.

Professor William Fisher
Wilmer Hale Professor of Intellectual Property Law
Faculty Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

Harvard Law School

About the speaker: 
William Fisher received his undergraduate degree (in American Studies) from Amherst College and his graduate degrees (J.D. and Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization) from Harvard University.  Since 1984, he has taught at Harvard Law School, where he is now the Wilmer Hale Professor of Intellectual Property Law. In 2013, he created the CopyrightX online course, which is now offered annually to approximately 1000 students worldwide. In 2021 he and Professor Ruth Okediji created a similar course on Patent Law and Global Public Health, which is now offered semi-annually in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization. He is currently a director of Global Access in Action, a non-profit organization, based at Harvard Law School, whose primary mission is improving public health in low and middle-income countries. 

The burdens of both infectious and noncommunicable diseases are unequally distributed throughout the world.  With rare exceptions, the residents of wealthy countries enjoy longer and more healthy lives than the residents of poor countries.  One of the many causes of this disparity is that the vaccines and medicines necessary to combat diseases are more readily available in wealthy countries.  The limits on access, in turn, are partly attributable to intellectual-property law and related legal doctrines.  To reduce inequality and the unnecessary loss of life, we can and must reform the relevant dimensions of the legal systems of all countries.  Unfortunately, that is no easy task.  Increasing access to existing drugs while preserving incentives to create new vaccines and medicines requires coordinating several legal reforms.  This lecture will review the most promising of the reform proposals that scholars and lawmakers are currently considering and outline a composite solution. 

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Accreditation: 
1 CPD point (course no: 20234623)

Target Audience:
Legal professionals, healthcare professionals and anyone who is interested

Elementary (no prior knowledge/ experience required)

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  • Public Talk
Date & Time
  • 12 Dec, 2023 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm

[in-person only] Academic Conference Room, 11/F Cheng Yu Tung Tower, The University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law

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