[Ip-health] TACD on UNITAID license

david at davidhammerstein.org david at davidhammerstein.org
Thu Sep 30 14:23:01 PDT 2010


TACD HAILS THE FIRST DRUG LICENSE GIVEN TO UNITAID:

NOW BIG PHARMA AND BIG GOVERNMENT MUST PUT THEIR PATENTS WHERE THEIR  
MOUTHS ARE


    The TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD), that represents 20  
million consumers from 18 countries, salutes the practical beginning  
of a new strategy toward providing affordable medicines  to much of  
the world´s population. UNITAID, an organization that aims to improve  
access to medicines in the South,  has been given its first patents on  
AIDS drugs by the public research establishment of the US, the  
National Institute of Health (NIH).

   There are no technical or scientific reasons for the millions of  
people affected by HIV/AIDs who cannot afford the most effective life- 
saving drugs; only the lack of political will to overcome  the patent  
monopolies by large pharmaceutical companies and the absence of the  
promotion of essential medicines as public goods.  The positive move  
by the Obama Administration to donate one of  the many patents  needed  
for antiviral treatment is indeed excellent news but it will only be  
useful for producing much cheaper generic AIDs medicines if drug  
companies like Johnson and Johnson come forward with the other patents  
needed to complete both "darunavir" and the two other drug classes  
needed for "combination antiviral therapy" (the type of treatment  
enjoyed by most in the US and Europe while denied to the rest of the  
world). TACD demands that the remaining patents be quickly integrated  
into the UNITAID patent pool by either voluntary or non-voluntary means.


   Of course, it comes of no surprise that a public institution like  
the NIH gives one of its patents for the general public good.  What is  
much more surprising for consumers and patients everywhere is that  
medical research paid for by tax payers does not always revert back  
into the domain of public health improvement instead of being  
appropriated by big pharmaceutical companies that convert massive  
public investment into the marketing of overpriced medicines . It begs  
the question: what happens to most of the medical inventions financed  
directly or indirectly with billions of dollars/euros of public money  
given to research programmes both in the EU and the US? Should there  
not be clear rules that govern the use of patents generated by  
publicly financed medical research?


   TACD hopes that these first  positive steps on the road to  
accessible, affordable essential medicines for all are a turning point  
in the campaign for global access to medicine. Now is not the time to  
talk of social responsibility or solidarity; it is the time to act to  
make UNITAID a viable life-saving alternative for millions of human  
beings.

David Hammerstein, TACD, Brussels


More information about the Ip-health mailing list