[Ip-health] US National Institutes of Health (NIH) First to Share Patents with Medicines Patent Pool

UNITAID Communication unitaidcommunication at gmail.com
Thu Sep 30 07:47:47 PDT 2010

*30 September 2010, Geneva* – The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)
has become the first patent-holder to share its intellectual property with
the Medicines Patent Pool, an initiative newly-established with the support

 “We are delighted that with this first license, the NIH is demonstrating
its support for the Medicines Patent Pool and its commitment to making the
fruits of its research globally available,” said Dr. Charles Clift, Chair of
the Medicines Patent Pool Board.  “Today we take the first step in what we
expect to be a productive collaboration with the NIH and other patent
holders to come, that will help us improve access to medicines in developing

“This license underlines the U.S. Government’s commitment to the Medicines
Patent Pool and its goal to increase the availability of HIV medicines in
developing countries,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
“We are now discussing licensing to the Medicines Patent Pool other patents
that could have a positive impact on the treatment of HIV/AIDS.”

The Pool is supported by UNITAID, an innovative global health financing
mechanism (funded by a levy on airline tickets), which was co-founded by
Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the United Kingdom at the United Nations
General Assembly in 2006.

“The Medicines Patent Pool embodies the innovative approach that UNITAID is
taking to improving public health in developing countries,” said Dr.
Philippe Douste-Blazy, Chair of the UNITAID Executive Board.  “We are
encouraged by the support of the NIH, and call on other patent holders to
follow their lead.”

The NIH holds multiple patents covering medicines and other technologies
related to HIV/AIDS.  These include patents on existing drugs as well as
products in the development pipeline.  The patents licensed today relate to
the protease inhibitor class of HIV medicines, which is primarily used to
treat drug-resistant HIV infection.  The NIH Office of Technology Transfer
has previously granted non-exclusive licenses to these patents, including to
Tibotec (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) for darunavir.  The patents
resulted from research undertaken by the NIH National Cancer Institute and
the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Patents on the licensed technology are pending or have been granted in the
US, Canada, Australia, Japan and 19 high-income member states of the
European Patent Office.  The license stipulates that this technology is to
be available for the benefit of all low- and middle-income countries, as
defined by the World Bank.  The license is royalty-free.  The license on its
own will not provide rights to produce or sell any specific existing
medicine.  Other patent holders would also need to share their patents with
the Pool in order to clear the legal path for production of affordable,
generic HIV medicines.  The Pool is inviting all leaders of companies and
institutions that hold patents on HIV medicines to make their patents

“Every day I meet people who need access to cheaper and better medicines for
HIV and AIDS, whether it’s small children or adults whose medicines are no
longer working for them,” said Nelson Otwoma, Director of Network of Persons
Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya and UNITAID board member.  “We ask that
companies step up and collaborate with the Medicines Patent Pool so that we
can quickly see more affordable, easy-to-use pills getting into people’s

By streamlining licensing processes for the production of generic versions
of patented HIV medicines, the Pool serves as a one-stop shop that will
speed up the pace at which newer medicines reach patients, and will help
bring prices down by encouraging competition among multiple producers.  It
will also facilitate the development of HIV medicine formulations for
children and of ‘fixed-dose combinations’ that combine several medicines
into one pill, thereby simplifying treatment for patients.

“The Medicines Patent Pool is now up and running,” said Dr. Clift.  “We look
forward to further agreements with patent holders in the coming months, so
we can begin to make a real difference to the lives of people living with


Sheila Shettle, Medicines Patent Pool +1.917.613.7863

Calvin Jackson, U.S. National Institutes of Health +1.301.594.8750

Daniela Bagozzi, UNITAID +41.(0)79.475.5490

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