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Participation Of Big Pharma Companies Critical To Success Of Drug Patent Pools

In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, David de Ferranti, president of the Results for Development Institute, and Robert Hecht, managing director at the Institute, examine whether patent pools could help increase access to AIDS drugs among the world’s poor, writing, “AIDS program managers and advocates must pursue all measures that can keep the cost of treatment low and affordable. In addition to the actions that are already being taken — like having African governments and donors buy AIDS drugs in bulk from suppliers in order to obtain better prices — could a ‘patent pool’ for new drugs help to make AIDS treatment more accessible?”

They highlight the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), created by UNITAID in 2010 in response to intellectual property (IP) laws enacted in 2005 that “requir[e] countries like India, which previously allowed its generic companies to ‘copy’ drugs that were patented abroad, to accept patent applications for medicines, including those for AIDS treatment.” They write, “The key to a successful MPP is persuading a critical mass of drug companies to join,” adding, “The reaction to the MPP from industry so far has been lukewarm,” with only one multinational, Gilead, joining the pool. They conclude, “As of today, the history of the MPP is still being written. It will be important to see over the coming year whether this patent pool will become large enough to effectively accelerate the production of low-cost generic versions of new AIDS drugs and the creation of the fixed-dose combination. … We think the patent pool can be good for everyone involved — AIDS patients, poor country governments, AIDS donor organizations, and drug companies” (4/9).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.