[Ip-health] New York Times: Company Agrees to Share AIDS and Hepatitis Drugs With Patent Pool

Thirukumaran Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Tue Jul 12 03:02:10 PDT 2011


Global Update

Company Agrees to Share AIDS and Hepatitis Drugs With Patent Pool


Published: July 12, 2011

In the first agreement between a pharmaceutical company and the new international Medicines Patent Pool, Gilead Sciences announced Tuesday that it would license four of its AIDS and hepatitis B drugs to the pool.

The move is particularly important because it includes tenofovir and emtricitabine, which have emerged as important components of AIDS therapy and new prophylaxis regimens, like vaginal microbicides for women and once-a-day pills protecting gay men. Many poor countries now have only older drugs, some of which have harsh side effects.

Health advocates have long championed the idea of a pool: an independent agency that would hold patents on drugs and sub-license them to low-cost manufacturers for low or no royalties on the condition that they supply only poor countries. (In Uganda, above, cost cutting has set back anti-AIDS programs.)

The pool was created last year, but drugmakers resisted it, wanting to control quality and protect rights to future profits from middle-income countries. Until this week, the only participant was the National Institutes of Health, which turned over a partial patent on an obscure AIDS drug.

“This is a great achievement,” said James P. Love, a campaigner for lower drug prices who first proposed a pool in 2002. “The other drug companies didn’t want Gilead to sign anything, and this will put pressure on them.”

The pool must negotiate which countries can get which drugs, and Mr. Love said he will watch that carefully. Gilead may benefit, he noted, because it may now get modest royalties from sales in countries where it never bothered to take out patents.


Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)

thiru at keionline.org

Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997

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