Medicines Patent Pool’s Voluntary Licensing; Unique in its efforts to better treat the Infection

Efforts of Medicines Patent Pool (hereinafter referred to as “MPP”); a United Nations backed public health organisation, founded in July 2010, and based in Geneva, Switzerland are praiseworthy.

The lives of millions of people in poor developing countries depend on access to affordable medicines. However, unfortunately most of the world’s population does not receive the essential medicines in the extent they need and that too at critical times. According to World Health Organization (WHO), 37 million people (globally) require HIV treatment but only 15 million people living in low and middle income countries have access and out of the 3.3 million children, only 32% receives the therapy. Also, Hepatitis C is a major public health threat; with majority of them living in low, middle income developing countries.

With number of patients growing organically, any single manufacturer can’t meet the mandate. At the same time, demand for newer drugs/medicines keeps on increasing as HIV medicines gradually becomes less effective over time for patients developing resistance. Moreover, it is also difficult to develop tailor made medicine for specific population (like children) and to develop combination of multiple medicines in to one pill (FDC-Fixed Dose Combination) because of individual patents on different medicines.

MPP, a public health organisation funded by the United Nations offers a solution to all these problems. It negotiates with owner of the patented medicine (pharmaceutical company, research institute, government universities etc.) to voluntarily share their patents which let another party/producer to manufacture and sell generic versions of the medicine in poor developing countries or to develop adapted formulations. MPP also eases the development and production of FDCs. The pool also works for Patent owners as it ensures them fair royalty and provides them the way to contribute to global health. Most importantly, MPP works for people living with HIV/AIDS/Hepatitis/Tuberculosis by bringing prices to affordable levels and helping them to provide new medicines.

Things have come a long way from the earlier days of MNC’s fighting against generic production and national government who endorse them, to the new arrangement where big pharmaceutical companies eager to share their patents. All credit goes to the efforts of MPP; addition to their constant working to increase availability of medicines of HIV, Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis in poor developing countries, it has signed a sub-licensing agreement with six Indian pharmaceutical companies, Hetero Labs Ltd, Laurus Labs ltd, Lupin Ltd and Zydus Cadila or Cadila Healthcare Ltd to sell generic ARV (antriretrovirals) and Hepatitis C drug Daclatasvir.

This deal would all set to establish a new era of innovative production in the Indian pharmaceutical industry. It will help Indian companies to avoid the stress of seeking voluntary license from innovator firms, or apply for compulsory licenses in those markets where MPP would supply the drug. Most notably it will help battle the disease at our home as we are third in position with the highest number of HIV affected people.

About the Author: Dr.Komal Tomar, Sr. Licensing Associate at IIPRD and Khurana &Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at: commercialization@iiprd.com

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