[Ip-health] Medicines Patent Pool Statement on Johnson & Johnson¹s Darunavir Announcement

Kaitlin Mara kmara at medicinespatentpool.org
Fri Nov 30 06:07:11 PST 2012

30 NOVEMBER 2012: Yesterday, Johnson & Johnson announced a new policy not
to enforce its patents on its antiretroviral, darunavir, in Sub-Saharan
Africa and least-developed countries in some circumstances.

The Medicines Patent Pool welcomes any measure that genuinely improves
access to medicines in the developing world. However, with a limited
geographical coverage of 64 countries, the policy is a step backward
compared to what other companies and Johnson & Johnson itself have
announced for other antiretrovirals in the past.

Demand for darunavir is likely to increase over the coming years, as more
people need access to second- and third-line treatment in developing
countries.  But the policy's limited geographic coverage, combined with
prohibitively high prices in developing countries with the highest need
for darunavir, is not likely to result in improved access to the medicine
where it is most needed.

In issuing the policy, Johnson & Johnson suggested its approach provides
greater assurance that the product will be of quality and used in a
medically sound manner.  It is unclear how a hands-off policy not to
assert patents achieves these goals. A better way to ensure that quality
products are developed, registered and made available to those who need
them is to work through the Medicines Patent Pool.

Under a specific mandate from UNITAID, the Pool collaborates closely with
a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that medicines made under its
licences are in line with treatment guidelines, meet
internationally-recognised quality standards and are developed rapidly to
meet urgent needs. The Pool works with its licensees on every step of drug
development, from technology transfer to national registration in order to
ensure that the licensing of patents truly results in greater access to
quality assured treatment for people living with HIV.

The Pool reiterates its call for Johnson & Johnson to enter negotiations
to agree on transparent, public health-oriented licensing terms and
conditions that will genuinely result in expanded access to quality
antiretrovirals in developing countries.

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