Open Access Database Of Key HIV Patents Launched By Medicines Patent Pool 07/04/2011 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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 Medicines Patent Pool, an initiative aiming at increasing access to HIV drugs through voluntary licences of patented drugs, has launched a new database of patent information on HIV medicines. The database was developed with the support of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and national and regional patent offices, Ellen ‘t Hoen, executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool, said during a 4 April press briefing. The database is the most accessible publicly available patent status information on HIV medicines in developing countries, ‘t Hoen said. It covers 67 developing countries and 23 HIV medicines. “This is a wider range of countries than have ever been made publicly available,” she said. The Medicines Patent Pool aims at increasing access to “quality, safe, efficacious, more appropriate and affordable medicines,” with a focus on HIV/AIDS, according to its website. “Patent holders are compensated for sharing their patents, generic manufacturers gain access to markets, and patients benefit more swiftly from appropriate and adapted medicines at more affordable prices,” it says (IPW, Public Health, 10 March 2011). The database “can open the doors to make general patent information available to those who need it,” ‘t Hoen said, “well beyond intellectual property lawyers or pharmaceutical companies.” Information on patent status is increasingly important in humanitarian supply of anti- retroviral medicines, according to ‘t Hoen. The lack of reliable information can be a problem, for example, for supply organisations which may not know to which countries they can supply low cost generic medicines. The database will help public health organisations know where a drug is patented. Organisations have tried to obtain this information on patent status in the past, but most of them did not have the capacity or knowledge to search for this information, ‘t Hoen said. The objective of the patent pool was not to develop a database, she said. The patent pool needed this knowledge for its own purposes, which is “trying to increase competition and increase innovation in the field of HIV through making voluntary licences,” she said, and trying to get patent holders to enter into negotiation with the patent pool. They had thus a need to find out who holds the patents and where those patents are located. Through the effort of trying to get the information, “we realised that many others had a need for this information,” she said, and the patent pool decided to put the database in the public domain “for everyone to use.” The database is available online, on the patent pool website. According to Pascale Boulet, IP and regulatory advisor for the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), speaking in her capacity as advisor to the patent pool, one of the critical values of the database is that it links the names of medicines to relevant patents, which was not the case in a usual patent database. Another interesting feature, she said at the briefing, is that many consultations with stakeholders were carried out to identify the few key patents that are linked to specific medicines. The database also includes the patent numbers, when the information was available, he said. That can help people check if the patent is still valid, or expired or modified. Although the patent database is not fully comprehensive – something Boulet called nearly impossible – it is a “much better starting point for public health organisations which need information to buy cheaper medicine.” “We hope that by sharing it [the database] today,” a kind of “wiki” effect can be achieved, with users of the database providing information and helping the patent pool to improve it, so that it can be further shared with a wider community, Boulet said. According to Lutz Mailänder, head of the WIPO Patent Information Section, it is the first time WIPO has been involved in such a specific project. The availability of the legal status of patents is insufficient, in particular in developing countries, he said. This is why the patent pool approached WIPO to get some help to find this information, he said. The legal status of patents nationally is not usually available online from national patent offices in developing countries. At the moment, patent offices have to be asked to check into their files. Some countries offered some strong support to answer questions from the patent pool, with the collaboration of WIPO, which “used their contacts” in the patent offices, he said. It is important to raise awareness in developing country patent offices, Mailänder said. “We need more attention to availability on legal status,” he said. Legal status of patent will also be important for the future, in particular for green technology, and for technology transfer, he said. According to ‘t Hoen, although the database will have to be regularly updated, procurement agencies should not rely only on the database information , and should check with national authorities on the current status of patents. “The lack of access to medicines has many causes, but confusion over who is legally able to manufacture or import medicines in what country can delay needed treatments in places where there are in fact no legal barriers,” said a patent pool press release. The database includes information on patent holders, patent application reference numbers, expected dates of patent expiration, and in which countries patents have been filed for, granted, withdrawn, or do not apply, the release said. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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 Catherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Open Access Database Of Key HIV Patents Launched By Medicines Patent Pool" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.