1 December, 2011
On World AIDS Day a year ago, the Medicines Patent Pool sent invitations to pharmaceutical companies asking them to license their patents to the Pool to help increase access to HIV medicines in developing countries.
One year later, the Pool has concluded its first licensing agreement with a pharmaceutical company – Gilead Sciences – and has begun to sublicense to generic manufacturers for the production of lower-cost medicines.
The Medicines Patent Pool, founded with the support of UNITAID in 2010, is also in negotiations with 6 additional HIV patent holders – Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, F. Hoffman LaRoche, Sequoia Pharmaceuticals, the US National Institutes of Health and ViiV Healthcare [a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer]. With each subsequent licensing agreement the Pool signs, its value-added as a “one-stop shop” for licences increases. Companies that join the Pool send a strong signal of their commitment to universal access to HIV treatment.
“In its first year of existence, the Pool has made tremendous progress. We call on the remaining 3 companies we have invited to the table – Abbott, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson — to also enter into negotiations with the Pool,” said Ellen ‘t Hoen, Executive Director of the Medicines Patent Pool.
Civil society, communities of people living with HIV, governmental and intergovernmental organisations all play a vital role, along with the Pool, in ensuring people have access to treatment. Vigilance from civil society groups and communities also helps the Pool improve its work.
Funding mechanisms like the Global Fund and UNITAID are especially critical. “We are alarmed by the recent news that the Global Fund lacks the resources to launch its next funding round. Even having all HIV patents in the Pool means little if adequate funding to purchase treatments is not there,” said ‘t Hoen.
Over the last 10 years, increased access to HIV treatment has allowed millions of people in developing countries to lead longer and healthier lives. Generic medicines have been key in making this happen. The Medicines Patent Pool seeks to keep these gains, and extend them further by negotiating public-health friendly licences that facilitate generic production and innovation on needed new formulations, such as simplified “fixed-dose combinations” and medicines for children.
World AIDS Day Statements Supportive of the Pool
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility:
The Medicines Patent Pool: A Powerful Strategy for “Getting to Zero”
NEW YORK: “On World AIDS Day, investors call on pharmaceutical companies to do their part to end the AIDS epidemic by joining the patent pool… Underscoring the urgency, Sr. Barbara Aires of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth said, “Thirty years after it was first diagnosed, millions of people in developing countries are still sick and dying of AIDS. The need for affordable medicines to eradicate this scourge couldn’t be clearer. We want to encourage ViiV and BMS to achieve a successful conclusion to their negotiations and once again call upon the other companies we hold, such as J&J, Merck and Abbott, to begin negotiating with the MPP immediately.” Read more…
Treatment Action Campaign, Treatment Action Group, HIV i-Base, European AIDS Treatment Group and Section 27:
We need the Patent Pool to work
SOUTH AFRICA: “The exorbitant price of AIDS medicines, especially antiretrovirals, has been one of the main barriers to people with HIV accessing them, especially in developing countries. As activist organisations we have been at the forefront of many of the struggles to make medicines affordable… One of the initiatives that has resulted from these struggles is the Patent Pool.” Read more…
The National Empowerment Network of People Living With HIV in Kenya:
NEPHAK Calls on J&J, Merck and Abbott to Join the Medicines Patent Pool and Countries and Donors to honour their commitment to the Global Fund
KONDELE, KISUMU CITY, KENYA: More than 800,000 people in Kenya need HIV medicines now, but the resources exist to treat just slightly more than half of them. The figure for children infected with HIV and missing treatment is more grave! Lower cost medicines are desperately needed to save lives. On the occasion of World AIDS Day 2011, the National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK) calls on drug companies to help ensure these medicines are available by joining the Medicines Patent Pool.Read more…[pdf]
Keep the Momentum on Quality, Innovation and Healthy Markets
GENEVA: “… UNITAID calls on companies holding patents for important second- and third-line medicines to urgently consider joining the Medicines Patent Pool. As some people on treatment become resistant to the first line of defense, the developing world will increasingly need newer, more robust medicines which will remain patented for a long time to come. The Medicines Patent Pool was created precisely to address this challenge and make better patient-adapted, state-of-the-art medicines available to the poor through a voluntary patent sharing mechanism.” Read more…
Donors and drug companies missing chance to eliminate Aids
UNITED KINGDOM: “… UNITAID calls on companies holding patents for important second- and third-line medicines to urgently consider joining the Medicines Patent Pool. As some people on treatment become resistant to the first line of defense, the developing world will increasingly need newer, more robust medicines which will remain patented for a long time to come. The Medicines Patent Pool was created precisely to address this challenge and make better patient-adapted, state-of-the-art medicines available to the poor through a voluntary patent sharing mechanism.” Read more…
Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance:
AIDS report: Responses showing results need strengthened support
GENEVA: “… In addition, EAA members are calling for support for innovative initiatives such as the Medicines Patent Pool, which could prove vital for speeding up the development of essential new fixed dose combinations, increasing access to newer, more effective treatments, and stimulating production of paediatric formulations. “Without the new paradigm which the Medicines Patent Pool offers to make new treatments available rapidly and affordably, expanding treatment access in the future in a sustainable way for the predicted 50 million people who will need these medicines by 2030, will be very difficult to achieve”, states Deakin.” Read more…
Harvard Global Health and AIDS Coalition:
Call to Action
CAMBRIDGE, USA: “… Programs that have proven effective at saving lives, whether longstanding like the president’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria or newly instituted like the Medicines Patent Pool must be maintained with rigor and hope. Read more…