Health Costs and the Patent Puzzle
Drug patents present an interesting case. As best I can work it out, the reason drugs are more expensive in the U.S. than in many other places is in part ordinary price discrimination by the drug companies, in part their fear that charging the revenue maximizing price elsewhere would result in countries refusing to enforce drug patents. The difference between that case and others is that drugs provide a basis for justifying wholesale violation of patent rights that is, at least, rhetorically, much more persuasive than for other products. It's a lot easier to say "if you don't want to pay for my book, don't read it" than "if you don't want to pay for my drug, die." Hence the risk that the consuming countries will refuse to enforce patent rights is greater in that case.