New Database to Aid People Working to Increase Access to HIV Medicines
Geneva, 4 April 2011: The Medicines Patent Pool today announces the launch of a new database of patent information that will help shed light on where key patents exist for antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for the treatment of HIV/AIDS in developing countries.
The database is the most complete single source of open access information about these critical public health related patents in developing countries. It was developed by the Pool with the support of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and a wide range of national and regional patent offices that helped to provide and validate information on the legal status of patents.
“The ARV patent database provides a unique and powerful resource for people trying to understand the complex landscape of ARV patents, especially those working to increase access to medicines in developing countries,” said Ellen ‘t Hoen, executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool, an innovative voluntary licensing mechanism established with the support of UNITAID in July 2010.
“Reliable patent status information is often hard to come by, though it is essential to our work in negotiating licenses. After compiling this information with the aid of WIPO, it was a logical next step to put it in the public domain where it can be used and improved upon by others,” ‘t Hoen said.
“Patent information is a vital source of economic and technological intelligence. WIPO has made a commitment to developing countries to facilitate access to patent information, and we were pleased to be able to make available our services in cooperation with national and regional patent offices.” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. The work of WIPO was a pilot project of its Patent Information Services.
The lack of access to medicines has many causes, but confusion over who is legally able to manufacture or import medicines in what country can delay needed treatments in places where there are in fact no legal barriers or where barriers can be overcome.
The patent status database contains a fully searchable listing of patents on 23 antiretroviral medicines (including some pipeline products) – for 67 countries represented by 29 national and regional patent offices, and is growing as more data become available. It includes information on who holds the patent, reference numbers for patent applications, expected dates of patent expiration, and in which countries the patents have been filed for, granted, withdrawn or do not apply. The latter information could not have been collected without generous and valuable cooperation that WIPO received from the IP Offices concerned.
The Medicines Patent Pool was created to improve the health of people living with HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries by increasing access to quality, safe, efficacious, more appropriate and affordable medicines. The Pool does this by negotiating voluntary licences for patents on HIV medicines. The easier availability of patent licenses will encourage robust generic competition to bring down prices and also help pave the way for innovation on needed new medicines.
UNITAID is an innovative financing mechanism dedicated to scaling up the treatment of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. It was established in 2006 by the governments of Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the United Kingdom; since then, UNITAID has committed nearly US$ 500 million for AIDS treatment in low- and middle-income countries.