Universities Allied for Essential Medicines

NYTimes Article on NIH Patent Pool Entry

H.I.V.: National Institutes of Health Licenses Its Patent on a New Drug for AIDS

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.


October 5, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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