Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers argue that the current patent system is crucial for stimulating research and development (R&D), leading to new products that improve medical care. The financial return on their investments that is afforded by patent protection, they claim, is an incentive toward innovation and reinvestment into further R&D. But this view has been challenged in recent years. Many commentators argue that patents are stifling biomedical research, for example by preventing researchers from accessing patented materials or methods they need for their studies. Patents have also been blamed for impeding medical care by raising prices of essential medicines, such as antiretroviral drugs, in poor countries. This debate examines whether and how patents are impeding health care and innovation.