Access to Medicines Index Calls on Companies to Join Medicines Patent Pool

28 NOVEMBER 2012: The newly released 2012 Access to Medicines Index has called on companies to join Medicines Patent Pool, “considered to be the best hope for ensuring sustained access to new first-line treatments” for HIV.

The Index rates the largest 20 pharmaceutical companies performance in improving access to medicine in developing countries. Engagement with the Medicines Patent Pool , and voluntary licensing practices in general, are criteria on which companies are judged. The full report is available here [pdf].

Gilead Sciences leads the 2012 Access to Medicines ranking for Patents & Licensing – an improvement from fourth to first place “attributable to its engagement with the Medicines Patent Pool and its increasing use of non-exclusive voluntary licences as a mechanism for tapping into the capacity of generic producers to support access to medicine,” the report states.

It further praised Gilead Sciences for setting “a very good example by taking an advocacy position within the industry regarding the Medicines Patent Pool and its novel licensing strategy, seeking actively to shape opinions within the industry and to drive adoption of what it sees as good practice.”

Companies with relevant HIV medicines also received points on the index for entering negotiation with the Pool – GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Roche, and Bristol-Myers Squibb were among those noted for entering into talks to license to the Pool.

The Index suggests that these companies can improve access to medicines by concluding negotiations by licensing to the Patent Pool, and calls on the remaining three companies not yet in negotiations to participate. In particular it urges Johnson & Johnson to “enter formal negotiations with the Medicines Patent Pool.”

The Index also says further progress is needed on non-exclusive voluntary licensing practices, in particular that greater geographical scope and provisions for technology transfer should be emphasised in future licensing agreements. And it rewards companies for overall transparency regarding the details of access programmes. Licences to the Medicines Patent Pool are unique in being posted publicly online for anyone to read.

The Medicines Patent Pool has issued an analysis of licensing policies likely to most profoundly affect access to medicines, which is available here [pdf].

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