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Pharmaceutical Companies Should 'Get On Board' With Unitaid's 'Patent Pools'

In this Guardian opinion piece, Jill Filipovic, a freelance writer and blogger at Feministe, reports on how Unitaid, an organization “largely funded through innovating financing methods, including a tax on airplane tickets,” is working to increase access to HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis treatments in developing countries through “patent pools” and urges pharmaceutical companies to “get on board.”

“Unitaid … is pushing pharmaceutical companies to sign on to ‘patent pools,’ where they suspend the patents on the most necessary HIV/AIDS drugs only for the poorest countries, allowing those drugs to be produced generically and combined with other companies’ drugs,” she writes, adding that Gilead Sciences has signed on to the plan. “The idea behind the patent pool is that everyone wins. People in developing countries who need drugs (and particularly second- and third-line treatments) get them on the cheap. … The drug companies would be awarded royalties, and would maintain the patents in wealthier nations. … It’s a fairly simple moral calculus, but it remains to be seen if other big pharma companies will follow suit,” she concludes (10/4).