[Ip-health] White House Blog: US Government First to Share Patents with Medicines Patent Pool

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Oct 1 05:29:47 PDT 2010

Note: Hillary Chen is Advisor to the Deputy Director for Policy in the  
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy



US Government First to Share Patents with Medicines Patent Pool
Posted by Hillary Chen on September 30, 2010 at 08:00 PM EDT
Kudos to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for being the first  
in the world to share patents with the newly established Medicines  
Patent Pool!

Just last week, President Obama signed a Presidential Policy Directive  
on Global Development that focuses on sustainable development outcomes  
and places a premium on broad-based economic growth, democratic  
governance, game-changing innovations, and sustainable systems for  
meeting basic human needs. The new Policy aims to leverage innovation  
to solve long-standing development challenges, encourage new models  
for innovation and to increase developing countries’ utilization of  
science and technology. A fact sheet on the policy appears on  

The initial contribution by the NIH and co-patent owner the University  
of Illinois at Chicago embodies these commitments and takes an  
important step toward making affordable and appropriate HIV medicines  
available to patients around the world. It builds on the President’s  
previous commitment to support humanitarian licensing policies to  
ensure that medications developed with U.S. taxpayer dollars are  
available off-patent in developing countries. The patents—which  
previously have been licensed for the HIV drug darunavir—are relevant  
to protease inhibitor HIV medicines, which are primarily used to treat  
drug-resistant HIV infection. The license to the Medicines Patent Pool  
stipulates that the technology will be available for the benefit of  
all low- and middle-income countries, as defined by the World Bank,  
and is royalty-free. The text of the licensing agreement is available  
on the UNITAID website (pdf).

The Medicines Patent Pool is supported by UNITAID, an innovative  
global health financing mechanism that was co-founded by Brazil,  
Chile, France, Norway and the United Kingdom at the United Nations  
General Assembly in 2006. It is a voluntary mechanism through which  
pharmaceutical patent holders can choose to license their patents to  
the Pool. The Pool then makes the licenses available to qualified  
third parties, such as generic drug manufacturers, which will pay  
appropriate royalties on the sale of the medicines for use in  
developing countries.

The Medicines Patent Pool is designed to:

	• speed up the pace at which newer medicines reach patients;
	• help bring prices down by encouraging competition among multiple  
producers; and
	• facilitate new medicine formulations, including versions for  
children and versions in which several drugs are combined into a  
single pill.
As patent owners from around the world—including governments,  
companies, universities, non-profits, and individuals—license their  
HIV technologies to the Medicines Patent Pool, it will become a one- 
stop shop for efficient licensing of the technologies that are  
necessary for the production of generic versions of patented HIV  

It’s important to note that multiple patents are involved in each HIV  
medicine, so the patents licensed today are not sufficient to produce  
or sell any single drug. Thus it’s critical that other patent holders  
also share their patents with the Pool.

As a global leader in research and development, the United States has  
an important catalyzing role to play in promoting voluntary mechanisms  
that will increase competition to provide innovative, affordable  
health technologies to people in low- and middle-income countries. The  
U.S. contribution to the Medicines Patent Pool, combined with licenses  
from private-sector partners and governments from around the world,  
presents an exciting opportunity to do just that and promote access to  
medicines globally.

Again, kudos to the NIH and the Medicines Patent Pool!

Hillary Chen is Advisor to the Deputy Director for Policy in the White  
House Office of Science and Technology Policy


Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
thiru at keionline.org

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

More information about the Ip-health mailing list