The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is looking at amending the Patents Act to remove some of the risks of legal action for infringing patents.
Under current UK law, a limited level of research can be conducted using patented products without infringing the rights of the patent owners.
However, this does not extend to clinical and field trials, which must be carried out before a drug can be licensed.
A pharmaceutical company may legitimately need to use a patented drug in a clinical trial, for instance to compare a new drug with a patented product, or to develop therapies combining new and patented compounds.
But currently, if a company uses a patented product as part of a trial it risks being sued by the patent owner.
An eight week consultation on the changes was launched today.
Intellectual property minister Lord Marland said: "The UK needs an intellectual property system which supports our world class UK pharmaceutical industry that invests over STG12 million ($A18.57 million) in research and development every day.
"Our proposals look to remove the uncertainty around patent infringement in clinical and field trials, so that our life sciences sector continues to create jobs and growth in the UK economy."