[Ip-health] HIV drug patent decision

Tahir Amin tahirmamin at gmail.com
Sun Jan 2 17:51:18 PST 2011

Pharmaceuticals in India now free to help HIV patients worldwide*

January 2, 2011

New York, NY – This weekend, India rejected an unmerited drug patent
application, paving the way for access to lifesaving medication for HIV
patients across the world. This groundbreaking victory for patients sets an
important precedent to stop pharmaceutical companies from gaming the patent
system, marking a new era of hope for millions of people living with HIV all
over the world.

This drug combination, Lopinavir/Ritonavir, is considered to be the front
line of defense for HIV positive patients who have failed to stay healthy
with the first round of medicines available today. India, the world’s
leading supplier of affordable medicines, can now supply this drug to
patients across the globe who are desperately waiting for treatment.

The impact of the case is tremendous. There are over 33 million people
living with HIV today and of these nearly 15 million require access to HIV
drugs. Cost-savings generated over a three-year period by introducing
generic Lopinavir/Ritonavir to 43 low- and middle-income countries would be
sufficient to start 130,000 new patients on HIV treatment who currently lack
access. That is 130,000 lives that could be saved from opening up the market
for this drug alone.

Cheaper generic versions of this drug are ready to reach patients in India
and across the world. Most recently, the Clinton Health Access Initiative
has negotiated a price of $440 per patient, per year for generic versions of
this drug from four suppliers. Enabling competition amongst Indian suppliers
has been demonstrated to consistently drive down prices on HIV medicines,
from $10,000 per patient per year in 2000, to as little as $79 today.

This affordable pricing by generic suppliers in India is in stark contrast
to the unaffordable pricing by Abbott Laboratories on HIV drugs across the
world over the last decade. “*Abbott’s track record on pricing this drug
unfairly for poorer countries motivated us to take on this case*”, stated
Tahir Amin, Director of the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge,
the not-for-profit organization who brought the legal action. “*They have
gamed the patent system for nearly twenty years to extend the patent life on
this drug. The time has come to say, ‘enough is enough’*.”

I-MAK reports that Abbott Laboratories holds at least *75 patents* on
Lopinavir/Ritonavir alone. The rejection of this patent application in India
was for a combination of existing drugs and techniques. The Indian Patent
Office has put a halt to Abbott Laboratories patenting which, simply put,
was not an invention.

For more information, contact Tahir Amin at 1-917-455-6601 or
tahir.m.amin at gmail.com, or Priti Radhakrishnan at 1-917-703-2876 or
priti.radhakrishnan at gmail.com.

Documents on the case are available at
About I-MAK*

I-MAK is a team of lawyers and scientists increasing access to affordable
medicines by making sure the patent system works. We work globally to ensure
that patents do not act as a barrier to research and restrict the public’s
access to affordable medicines. We offer free legal assistance to patients
worldwide on issues of access to medicines. Previously, I-MAK has supported
patient groups in India in filing against the Lopinavir and Ritonavir
patents individually, as well as against the known soft-gel capsule of this
drug combination. I-MAK has also filed challenges to Abbott’s patent in

Tahir Amin
Co-Founder and Director of Intellectual Property
Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK)

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