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Arts & Science Program

First-year Arts & Science Capstone Project: Nimrat Kalirai

Nimrat KaliraiNimrat Kalirai

Winter 2024 Capstone Project Title: Private Patents vs. Public Health: A Critical Examination of Patent Abuse in the United States Pharmaceutical Industry

Project Description: In my capstone project, I investigate how pharmaceutical companies exploit the United States patent system to extend their monopolies and drive up drug prices. I investigate tactics, namely patent thickets, product hopping, and pay-for-delay agreements, using case studies of drugs such as Celgene’s Revlimid and Reckitt’s Suboxone. These tactics not only limit access to affordable medications but also impede innovation and compromise public health. By bringing attention to these issues, my goal is to advocate for substantial reform that ensures the US patent system prioritizes both innovation and patient well-being.

The 1C06 Capstone experience: I chose my capstone topic because I’ve always been intrigued by the balance between private interests and public welfare, especially in industries like pharmaceuticals where there’s a lot at stake. There’s this inherent tension between companies wanting to make profits and society needing affordable healthcare. On one hand, drug companies invest in innovation, crucial for life-saving medications. But on the other hand, patients struggle to afford these medications when prices are high. One of the most fascinating parts of working on my Capstone has been finding a specific angle within the broad topic of rising drug prices. There are many layers to explore, from legal and regulatory aspects to the economic impacts on consumers and healthcare systems. It really has been like solving a puzzle, piecing together all the information to understand the issue better. Another enjoyable aspect of working on my capstone has been learning many new things. I’ve gained a deeper understanding of how the patent system works, the complexities of pharmaceutical pricing, and the challenges of ensuring access to affordable medications for all patients. It’s been eye-opening to see how these issues connect and affect each other, and I feel like I’ve expanded my knowledge throughout the process. Overall, working on my Capstone has been rewarding and fulfilling. It’s been exciting to focus on a topic I’m passionate about, and I’ve appreciated the opportunity of researching, analyzing, and writing about it. I feel like I’ve grown in my research and writing skills and learned a great deal in the process!

Key Takeaways: Throughout my capstone project, I’ve gained valuable skills beyond just knowledge about my topic. One major takeaway is the ability to conduct thorough research and synthesize information from various sources to build a coherent argument. I learned how to sift through vast amounts of information, analyze it critically, and extract key insights to support my thesis. Additionally, the process of writing and structuring my paper helped me develop strong communication skills. I learned how to effectively organize my thoughts, present complex ideas clearly, and craft persuasive arguments. My Capstone project has equipped me with essential skills in research, writing, and critical thinking that I will carry with me beyond this course!

Nimrat Kalirai Capstone Poster

Click here to read interviews with the other first year Arts & Science students.