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    If You Can’t Join ‘Em, Beat ‘Em: New Industry Effort A Jab At Patent Pool?

    Published on 21 June 2012 @ 12:32 am

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    A new pharmaceutical industry initiative aimed at improving access to HIV treatments in least-developed countries is raising questions as to how it will fit with the Medicines Patent Pool, an existing group with a similar but more ambitious mandate. As an informal meeting on the new initiative kicks off this week in New Delhi, scrutiny will be paid to whether the initiative’s drivers are several companies that have declined to negotiate with the patent pool and whether it is a good-faith effort to help the greatest number of patients.

    The new initiative is called the HIV Medicines Alliance, and its draft charter is here [pdf].

    The agenda of the New Delhi meeting, set for 21-22 June, shows an effort to build support among civil society and others. India is home to most of the world’s generic production, and some of its generics companies have made agreements with the Medicines Patent Pool.

    Looking at the draft charter from early June, the initiative aims to encourage companies to share in-kind support and patented products royalty-free to least-developed countries under arrangements with generics companies, and demonstrates flexibility on industry’s part.

    But it could stop short of a firm commitment to lower prices and availability. For instance, the draft language states that it would “work to enable the availability of medicines developed through this Alliance at the lowest possible prices,” which is perhaps different than stating that the medicines will be available and at prices poor populations can afford.

    The new initiative, organised by the Wellcome Trust, reportedly involves Johnson & Johnson and Merck, two companies that have declined to enter negotiations with the Patent Pool.

    The Medicines Patent Pool was established in recent years by UNITAID – affiliated with the UN World Health Organization – to increase access to HIV treatments in least-developed and developing countries, through voluntary licensing agreements with pharmaceutical companies that share their patents with the pool.

    The Medicines Patent Pool has negotiated agreements with some companies, but in some cases negotiations with patent-holders have been difficult where mid-sized developing countries are concerned, as companies are more reluctant to risk undermining profits in larger markets. On the other hand, public health advocates say that most people in the mid-sized developing countries cannot afford patented medicines, making it necessary to address those markets somehow.

    Meanwhile, in least developed countries, in many cases drug companies do not even have patents and so are less concerned about sharing there. The Medicines Patent Pool also attempts to maintain strong public health principles in voluntary licensing, which might be seen as a barrier by industry.

    The invitation letter for the New Delhi meeting says a stakeholder consultation was held in London on 2-3 May. “This brought together representatives of all originator companies, WHO, UNAIDS, CHAI, MSF, UNITAID, the Medicines Patent Pool, advocacy groups, donors, clinicians from Africa and other key stakeholders,” it said. The initiative apparently has just changed its name from the ARV Collaboration.

    The invitation letter was sent by Ted Bianco, director of technology transfer at the Wellcome Trust. The co-chairs of The ARV Collaboration were listed as Amb. Mark Dybul, Joy Phumaphi, and Peter Piot. Note: the organisers were not reached for this article.

    The initiative might also raise a question of how it compares with another new industry-related initiative at the World Intellectual Property Organization, called Re:Search (IPW, WIPO, 27 October 2012). But the WIPO initiative is not focussed on HIV/AIDS.

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. RR says:

      I was at the Wellcome Trust invitation meeting in New Delhi and asked the question – how is this initiative different from OR not an attempt to kill the Patent Pool.

      There was NO satisfactory/ non-ambigous answer.


    Leave a Reply

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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