[Ip-health] NY Times: National Institutes of Health Licenses Its Patent on a New Drug for AIDS

UNITAID Communication unitaidcommunication at gmail.com
Tue Oct 5 02:20:46 PDT 2010

Published: October 4, 2010

In a move that gave official American backing to the controversial idea of a
“patent pool,” the National Institutes of Health last week became the first
entity to license its patent on a new AIDS drug to an entity loosely
affiliated with the World Health Organization.

The rights to the N.I.H. patent on the drug, darunavir, do not mean that
generic-drug makers will instantly be able to make it cheaply for poor
countries, since other darunavir patents are held by private companies,
including Tibotec, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.

But it increases pressure on drug makers to follow suit. They have been
reluctant because they fear losing the profits they could make as once-poor
countries become richer, as India and Brazil have. Also, they fear losing
control over quality, since a bad batch of a generic could hurt the
reputations of their patented drugs. Instead, they have tended to cut
private deals with generic makers.

The pool is run by Unitaid, an independent agency founded at the United
Nations in 2006. Its original mission was to accept the receipts from
several taxes dedicated to global health — mostly from a fee on European
airline tickets. The money has been spent on AIDS drugs for children and
second-line drugs.

“We ask that companies step up and collaborate so we can quickly see more
affordable, easy-to-use pills getting into people’s mouths,” said Nelson
Otwoma, head of Kenya’s Network of People Living with H.I.V./AIDS and a
Unitaid board member.

A version of this article appeared in print on October 5, 2010, on page D6
of the New York edition.


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