[Ip-health] IP-Watch: UNITAID-Backed Patent Pool Final; Drug Licence Talks Can Begin

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Jun 9 00:27:11 PDT 2010


Intellectual Property Watch
8 June 2010

UNITAID-Backed Patent Pool Final; Drug Licence Talks Can Begin
By William New and Kaitlin Mara	 @ 10:34 pm
The final step in the establishment of a patent pool initiated by  
international drug-purchasing mechanism UNITAID was taken today, the  
group announced.

“All the practical hurdles” have been surmounted, said UNITAID Senior  
Adviser on Intellectual Property and Medicines Ellen ‘t Hoen. Now  
there is something in place “that can start seriously negotiating with  
the drug companies” for licences she told Intellectual Property Watch.

UNITAID is “a laboratory for new initiatives and new thinking, and  
today was an important step for all that,” ‘t Hoen added.

This “should save millions of lives of people living with HIV across  
the developing world,” UNITAID Executive Board Chair Philippe Douste- 
Blazy said to Intellectual Property Watch. Only 40 percent of those in  
need of HIV treatment receive it, he said, but the patent pool will  
“allow generic manufacturers to produce affordable versions of  
existing HIV drugs and encourage research into new pediatric  
treatments in exchange for a fair royalty payment.”

The UNITAID Board decided the organisation will enter into a  
Memorandum of Understanding with a new Medicines Patent Pool  
Foundation and provide US$ 4.4 million for its first year of  
operations. UNITAID leverages price reductions for, and speeds  
research and development on,  pharmaceuticals needed in the developing  
world. The voluntary patent pool is intended to lower prices and  
increase access for, to begin with, antiretroviral medicines.

The Patent Pool Foundation, as an independent legal entity, will move  
out of the World Health Organization but will be in Geneva, continue  
to be a part of the UNITAID family and to work closely with the WHO,  
‘t Hoen said. The foundation can continue say it was an initiative by  
UNITAID so long as it is not a standing part of the brand, she added.  
Figuring out how UNITAID and the patent pool would relate and refer to  
each other was one of the practical hurdles to overcome.

Douste-Blazy said in a statement that formal negotiations with the  
patent holders can now begin. “We expect the Patent Pool Foundation to  
have its first licences within a year,” he said.


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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