September 29, 2009
UPDATE: December 14, 2009 - In a decisive step to improve access to medicines in the developing world, the Executive Board of UNITAID, the international health financing agency, has given the green light for a patent pool for AIDS medicines to open for business. Learn more here.
UPDATE: October 7, 2009 - A week since the campaign was launched, well over 7,000 e-mails have been sent. Learn more here.
The cost of HIV medicines is rising all the time, meaning that many people with HIV will not be able to afford life-saving medicines—unless there is a way to produce new drugs at affordable prices.
When drug companies put their patents into a patent pool, they still get their royalties, while other companies use the patents to make cheaper drugs. Everyone wins.
Right now, there is a patent pool in the making. The international drug financing agency, UNITAID, is working on making it a reality. But for it to work, we need the pharmaceutical industry to play ball. Click here to help us make it happen by sending an e-mail to drug companies.
Patent Pools Explained
Watch these animations that explain how a patent pool could deliver the medicines we need.
Thembisa Mkhosana explains how she has run out of treatment options. A patent pool could help deliver newer, affordable medicines.
Why We Need A Patent Pool
We need HIV drugs that will keep patients alive longer
Newer, better antiretrovirals are already used by patients in the US and Europe, but aren’t available to people in developing countries or are simply too expensive. We need these newer drugs, with fewer side effects, to gradually replace older treatments. Plus, as everyone on long-term treatment will eventually develop resistance to the drugs they are taking, all patients will at some point need to switch treatments, to newer drugs that continue to fight the HIV virus. By making these drugs more affordable, a patent pool will ensure the delivery of these newer drugs for people in the developing world.
We need three-in-one HIV drugs that are easier to take
Treating HIV is complex and often requires patients to take multiple drug cocktails. But by combining the different drugs into one easy-to-take pill, patients are more likely to stick to their treatment. At the moment, it’s a struggle for generic producers to develop these much needed fixed-dose combinations, because different companies own the patents of the various drugs. By putting these patents under collective management, a patent pool will make it possible for many more combination therapies to be developed.
We need HIV drugs for children
Two million children are living with HIV but less than 10 percent of them have access to the medicines they need. All too often, there are no child formulations for drugs, as drug companies do not have the incentive to develop them when the overwhelming majority of children in need live in developing countries. By putting HIV drug patents in the pool, we remove one of the barriers blocking the development of child formulated drugs and drug combinations.
Visit these pages on the MSF Access Campaign's website to learn more about patent pools.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)