The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) is a United Nations-backed public health organisation working to increase access to HIV, viral hepatitis C and tuberculosis treatments in low- and middle-income countries. Through its innovative business model, the MPP partners with governments, industry, civil society, international organisations, patient groups and other stakeholders to forecast, prioritise and license needed medicines. The organisation encourages generic manufacture and the development of new formulations through patent pooling.
To date, the MPP has signed agreements with seven patent holders for twelve HIV antiretrovirals, one hepatitis C direct-acting antiviral and one HIV technology platform. Its generic partners have distributed 10.9 million patient-years of WHO-recommended HIV medicines to 125 countries, including 79 countries that were previously unable to benefit from generic competition (January 2012-June 2016). These numbers were calculated by the audit and advisory firm KPMG. See report here.
The MPP was founded and remains fully funded by UNITAID.
The MPP by the Numbers
7 Patent holders with MPP signed agreements
15 Generic manufacturers sub-licensed from the MPP
13 Medicines licensed to the organisation
100+ On-going pharmaceutical development projects
87% to 94% of people living with HIV in developing countries covered by the MPP adults licences
92 to 131 Countries covered by MPP adults licences
239 Million dollars saved from 2012 to June 2016
The audit and advisory firm KPMG calculated the savings of $238.8 million and supply of 10.9 million patient-years of treatments through MPP’s generic partners. See report here.
The MPP has signed agreements for twelve priority HIV medicines, one hepatitis C medicine and an HIV technology platform with patent holders AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences, MSD, the NIH, the University of Liverpool and ViiV Healthcare.
The licences include patented ARVs the World Health Organization recommends for first- and second-line treatments for adults and children of different age groups as well as treatments on the WHO Essential Medicines List. Licences also include new promising ARVs that likely will be central to treatment in the future.
MPP licences enable the manufacturing of generic ARVs and their sale in countries where between 87 and 94% of people with HIV in the developing world live. This includes all low-income countries and 50-80% of World Bank classified middle-income economies.
In addition, MPP negotiated an agreement with F. Hoffmann-La Roche to provide an up to 90% reduction in the price of a key treatment for HIV-related cytomegalovirus infection in 138 countries.
In November 2015, MPP signed a royalty-free licence with Bristol-Myers Squibb for a hepatitis C medicine shortly after the announcement of the expansion of MPP’s mandate to cover hepatitis C and tuberculosis treatment.
For a summary of the features of each MPP licence please click here.
Licensing terms and conditions
The Access to Medicines Index and other stakeholders have recognised the terms and conditions of the MPP licences as being pro-access, having the greatest flexibilities and broadest geographical scope.
Agreements with Generic Manufacturers
The MPP is currently managing 100 HIV pharmaceutical development projects with manufacturers to help speed availability of quality-assured generic versions of new treatments, including new fixed-dose combinations.
Sub-licences with 15 generic manufacturers are already enabling the development, manufacturing and sale of HIV and hepatitis C medicines in a large number of developing countries.
In May 2014, MPP joined its funder UNITAID, as well as the DNDi and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to launch the Paediatric HIV Treatment Initiative (PHTI) to accelerate the development of HIV paediatric formulations and ensure their availability in developing countries. In April 2016, MPP and the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development signed a memorandum of understanding to ensure access of future developed tuberculosis regimens in resource-limited settings.
Savings through MPP Licences
MPP estimates that the international community could save a total of USD 1.4 billion through the procurement of cheaper generic medicines thanks to the voluntary licences negotiated by the MPP. Savings estimates are calculated on the basis of forecasts developed in consultation with the World Health Organization and other leading organisations.*
MPP licences have already generated USD 239 million in savings for the international community and since 2012, 10.9 million patient-years of WHO recommended ARVs have been supplied by MPP’s generic partners.  Lower royalties, as well as the ability of generic manufacturers to sell licensed products in more countries, have allowed governments and international agencies to buy the drugs at lower prices and thus stretch their treatment dollars.
All MPP licences are publicly available in their entirety on the MPP website. This is unprecedented in the pharmaceutical field.
As part of the MPP’s mission to improve patent transparency, in 2016 the MPP launched its new Medicines Patents and Licences Database (MedsPaL) an upgrade to its original Patent Status Database. MedsPaL includes patent and licensing data on HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis treatment covering 4,000 national patent applications in more than 100 low- and middle-income countries.
* Estimates do not include: (i) Possible future savings from licensing compounds that are currently in early stage clinical trials (i.e. phases 1 and 2); (ii) Efficiencies in procurement generated by the transparency created by the MPP Patent Status Database; (iii) Savings from licences covering secondary patents (with few exceptions); (iv) Savings from additional competition generated by MPP licences in countries already covered by pre-existing licences; (v) Effects of the normative changes created by the MPP through spread of licensing terms negotiated by the MPP in its licences; (vi) Public health impact of new paediatric formulations being developed with MPP licences; (vii) Public health impact of earlier availability of fixed-dose combinations on new ARVs based on MPP licences.
 During the period January 2012 to June 2016