[Ip-health] [HEALTHGAP] Johnson & Johnson Turns Its Back on AIDS Patients

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Mon Apr 25 14:24:09 PDT 2011


Now what kind of stick besides moral persuasion can get J(ust Die) & 
J(ust Die) to the negotiating table to talk about essentially a 
market-based/oriented solution? Surely a few patents covering about 8 to 
12% of BigPharma's market cannot break the innovation system (or is that 
just a ruse)?

On 2011/04/25 11:55 PM, Judit Rius wrote:
> *Dear all,*
>
> *Find below a press release that MSF released today on J&J/Tibotec and 
> the Medicines Patent Pool. For more information, including a link to a 
> letter sent to J&J/Tibotec, visit this MSF website: 
> *http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=5209&enews=1 <http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=5209&enews=1>
>
>
> *PRESS RELEASE**
**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
*
> *Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)**
*
> *Contact: Sandra Murillo +1-212-763-5765/+1-646-207-0405*
>
> *JOHNSON & JOHNSON TURNS ITS BACK ON AIDS PATIENTS*
> */Pharma Giant’s Refusal to Participate in Patent Pool Undermines 
> Access to Key AIDS Drugs/*
>
> */New York, NY, April 25, 2011 — /*Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & 
> Johnson is putting the lives of people living with HIV at stake by 
> refusing to participate in the Medicines Patent Pool, a mechanism 
> designed to lower prices of HIV medicines and increase access to them 
> for people in the developing world, said the international medical 
> humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans 
> Frontières (MSF) today.
>
> Johnson & Johnson, which holds patents on three key new HIV drugs 
> desperately needed throughout the developing world, has so far refused 
> to license these patents to the Medicines Patent Pool. The Pool has 
> been set up to increase access to more affordable versions of HIV 
> drugs, including fixed-dose combinations that include multiple 
> medicines in one pill, and to develop much-needed pediatric HIV drugs. 
> The Pool would license patents on HIV drugs to other manufacturers and 
> the resulting competition would dramatically reduce prices, making 
> them much more affordable in the developing world. However, since the 
> Pool is voluntary it will only work if patent holders like Johnson & 
> Johnson choose to participate.
>
> “High prices mean patients in poor countries continue to be relegated 
> to second-class care, with no choice but to take older, more toxic 
> drugs we would no longer use in the U.S., and with almost no treatment 
> options when the virus becomes resistant to the limited number of 
> drugs available,” said Sophie Delaunay, executive director of MSF-USA. 
> “By putting its HIV drug patents in the pool, Johnson & Johnson has a 
> unique opportunity to transform this situation and save lives 
> worldwide. Instead, it has chosen to turn its back on these patients.”
>
> Johnson & Johnson holds patents on HIV medicines rilpivirine, 
> darunavir, and etravirine. Rilpivirine is a promising antiretroviral 
> (ARV) under development for use in first-line treatment regimens. 
> Darunavir and etravirine are important for patients who have developed 
> resistance to their existing treatment.
>
> Even at Johnson & Johnson’s so-called reduced “access” pricing, the 
> cost of these drugs is prohibitive; darunavir is priced at $1,095 per 
> patient per year, and etravirine at $913 per patient per year in the 
> world’s least-developed countries, most of which are in sub-Saharan 
> Africa. Many developing countries have to pay even higher prices.
>
> In December 2010, the National Institutes of Health, which holds the 
> intellectual property rights for a manufacturing process for 
> darunavir, put its patent for the AIDS drug in the patent pool. 
> Johnson & Johnson holds the drug’s remaining patents, and is 
> effectively blocking other companies from manufacturing and making 
> darunavir available at prices affordable for patients in the 
> developing world.
>
> There are now more than six million people receiving lifesaving ARV 
> treatment worldwide. This would have been impossible without 
> competition from generic companies that helped bring prices down from 
> $10,000 per patient per year for the most commonly used first line 
> regimen, to less than $100 per patient per year. Today, mechanisms in 
> international law and additional voluntary initiatives such as the 
> Medicines Patent Pool will be crucial to ensuring that patients have 
> access to newer, less toxic medicines to keep them alive.. Several 
> drug companies have already begun negotiating with the pool.
>
> MSF now provides treatment to more than 170,000 people living with HIV 
> worldwide, and is beginning to witness the inevitable, natural 
> phenomenon of treatment failure, in which patients everywhere develop 
> resistance to treatment and need to graduate to newer regimens. This 
> is happening now in MSF’s longest running HIV projects, in South 
> Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, and Cameroon.
>
> “We have patients who have no other treatment options other than 
> Johnson & Johnson’s darunavir, which is so expensive that the South 
> African government cannot afford it,” said Dr. Gilles van Cutsem, 
> medical coordinator for MSF programs in South Africa and Lesotho. “MSF 
> is now paying for these drugs, but this is just the beginning of the 
> problem. Ten years after we put the first patients on antiretroviral 
> treatment, we now have patients in our clinics who have become 
> resistant to drugs available at affordable prices. We’ll soon be back 
> in a situation where we’ll have to say there are drugs in the private 
> sector, or in rich countries, that could treat you, but we cannot 
> afford them.”
>
>
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