WIPO, Pharma Join Forces To Set Up Database For Medicine Procurers03/10/2017 by Intellectual Property Watch 2 CommentsShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors.Today WIPO Director General Francis Gurry and Thomas Cueni, Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), signed an agreement establishing the Patent Information Initiative for Medicines, or “Pat-INFORMED,” during the General Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO taking place this week. IFPMA worked with Intellectual Property Watch to prepare a Q&A with Mr Gurry and Mr Cueni about this new initiative. Francis Gurry and Thomas Cueni announce the initiative at WIPO todayWhat is Pat-INFORMED and why is it needed?FRANCIS GURRY (GURRY): The aim of Pat-INFORMED is to promote accessibility to public patent information on registered medicines via a new on-line global gateway. This gateway consists of a database specially designed to make it easier for medicine procurement experts in public health agencies to determine the existence of medicine patents.Easy access to such information should help health professionals navigate the medicine procurement process for the benefit of their citizens. For example, we hope it will make it easier for procurement bodies to identify relevant patents on products they wish to procure as part of their disease-management strategies. In addition to the database, the platform provides the facility for procurement bodies to submit queries directly to the companies involved in the initiative. This is a unique feature.… Why now?THOMAS CUENI (CUENI): This initiative stems from the pharmaceutical industry’s desire to help make medicine patent information clearer for people involved in procurement of medicines, who are highly skilled in certain areas, but not always in patent searches and analysis. It couples our research-based biopharmaceutical companies’ know-how with WIPO’s well-established expertise in collecting and organising patent data from across the globe.Information about granted patents and, in many cases, patent applications is already public but data and resources that directly link patents to marketed medicines are more limited in scope: they are generally available publicly only in select countries or through private third-party databases. Some companies already self-publish such links to patent information, but there is no consistent approach. As other companies have decided to follow suit, we decided that setting up a common platform would ensure consistency, thereby best serving the users’ needs.How is WIPO contributing to the initiative and why?GURRY: We are the specialised UN agency with a specific mandate in the field of intellectual property. WIPO has expertise and work programs in global databases as well as collaborative, multi-stakeholder platforms in the fields of global health, environment, and copyrighted materials. It has the technical capacity, expertise, and confidence of the international community as an objective and independent body with experience managing and reporting patent information. As such, WIPO is the natural choice to gather the patent data from the pharmaceutical companies, and to serve as the conduit between those companies and the procurement agencies that need access to the data.Partnership between the public and private sectors is fundamental to success in the field of development and more specifically in the public health. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 17, identify partnerships as both a means to attain development objectives, and an end in itself. Pat-INFORMED fits squarely within the UN’s own framework for partnership, and responds to an important need for accessible and available patent information for medicines.How are IFPMA, and the pharmaceutical companies contributing to the initiative — what is the role of each?CUENI: IFPMA is working closely with the 20 leading research-based biopharmaceutical companies that have backed this industry-wide initiative to help ensure this consistent approach and coordinate efforts. The program is built upon the industry’s firm belief that a properly implemented patent system should not only work to sustainably incentivize innovation, but should also strive to make information about patented inventions available and accessible to the public. Sharing such information also helps to inform and educate, add to the body of scientific and technological knowledge, and promote the further advancement and improvement of technology.The pharmaceutical industry relies on the patent system, which is based on public disclosure of inventions, and supports the patent system by facilitating access to patent information through Pat-INFORMED. This is an entirely voluntary initiative and involves a significant commitment from participants.In addition to the database, participants have committed to respond in good faith to a procurement agency’s bona fide and reasonable requests for additional patent information related to a product of interest. For example, they might disclose patents that fall into one of the excluded Orange Book categories, or basic patent information concerning alternative versions of a product that the participant does not presently market. What and whether any additional information will be disclosed is at the discretion of the participant.Who benefits from this initiative?GURRY: With Pat-INFORMED we want to make it easier for national and international medicine procurement agencies to access a basic body of patent information. This information and facility to put questions to innovator companies will hopefully also remove some uncertainty around the medicine patent assessment process. In turn, it may assist government decision-making as well as freeing up resources.Who can join the initiative?CUENI: Any organisation willing to comply with the Pat-INFORMED Guiding Principles is welcome to join. We expect and hope others to join in later.When will the initiative go live and the database be operational?CUENI: The initiative will be implemented in stages. At first it will provide information on granted patents for small molecule products within oncology, hepatitis C, cardiovascular, HIV, diabetes, and respiratory therapy areas; and any products on the WHO Essential Medicines List that are not within these therapy areas. In addition, a facility for follow on enquiries will also provide a channel for procurement agencies to seek additional clarification regarding the patent status of the products. Participants will endeavor to have the database relating to these therapy areas ready during the first half of 2018.Who can access the database?GURRY: The database, which is open to anyone, anywhere, provides information such as the key patents that are likely to be most relevant to a procurement agency interested in supplying generic products for an approved indication.Why do you need an initial phase which doesn’t cover all therapy areas? What is the reason for limiting the information to certain therapeutic area products in the pilot?CUENI: An initial phase is needed to see how this initiative works in practice. Depending on the results, participants will decide whether to modify or expand the initiative in future. Meanwhile, we believe that the therapy areas covered by the initial phase, including all medicines on the essential medicines list, address significant public health needs. The Orange Book that serves as a model here does not include complex therapeutics like vaccines and biologics. The template for vaccines and biologics is still evolving, and Pat-INFORMED participants will explore the possibility of including them as the initiative progresses. In the meantime, once Pat-INFORMED goes live, it will have a facility for follow-on enquiries that allows procurement agencies to request additional information from pharmaceutical companies.[Note: a joint press release on the initiative is available here.] Image Credits: William NewShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"WIPO, Pharma Join Forces To Set Up Database For Medicine Procurers" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.