MSF: Patent Monopoly Hinders Developing Countries’ Access To New HIV/AIDS Medicine06/07/2006 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare 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)IP-Watch and its Global Health Policy News are non-profit independent news services and depend on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.A monopoly by a single pharmaceutical company on a new medicine for HIV/AIDS has limited access to the medicine to a select group of patients in developing countries, a non-profit group said today.The product is lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra) and is only produced by the pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories, which holds the patent for the product, according to Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF), which highlighted the issue in a press release on 6 July.As a result, it “depends on Abbott to reduce the price and register” the product in developing countries, Tido von Shoen-Angerer of MSF’s Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines told Intellectual Property Watch, adding that the solution would be to get generic versions of the product. But that may prove difficult as the product has “at least another 10 years of patent” protection, he said.Abbott, which is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois (US), was unavailable for comment at press time (including its European offices).Von Shoen-Angerer said that initially, Abbott had not planned on making the product available in developing countries except South Africa, blaming administrative issues. But after pressure, Abbott now provides the product for $500 per patient per year in a “limited number” of least-developed countries, according to MSF.But it still refuses to make it available in other developing countries such as Guatemala and Thailand, the spokesperson said. In Thailand, where the old product is under patent, Abbott charges $2,800 for the old version of lopinavir/ritonavir, MSF said. In India, there is a patent application for the product, von Shoen-Angerer said.The medicine is a second-line HIV/AIDS treatment, which means that this is the medicine a patient needs after having taken the first-line treatment for a certain period of time, regardless of whether the patient took the first-line treatment in a correct manner, von Shoen-Angerer said, adding that the product is recommended by the World Health Organization.It is also an improved HIV/AIDS medicine as it has a lower pill count, does not require refrigerated storage (which is welcome in countries such as Thailand, where the temperature exceeds 30 degrees Celsius most of the year), and does not have any dietary restrictions.Abbott also controls access by choosing where to register the product, as well as where to market it (the old version is registered in China, for example, but Abbott has chosen not to market it there), MSF said.Share 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"MSF: Patent Monopoly Hinders Developing Countries’ Access To New HIV/AIDS Medicine" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.