First Company Signs Agreement to Join Medicines Patent Pool
12 July 2011: Today the Medicines Patent Pool announces its first licences with a pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences, to increase access to HIV and Hepatitis B treatment in developing countries.
Today the All Party Parliamentary Group for HIV and AIDS welcomes the announcement that the Medicines Patent Pool and the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences have signed the first licensing agreement to improve access to HIV treatment in developing countries.
"This is a move the APPG has been waiting for since the launch of our report The Treatment Timebomb report in 2009.” Said Pamela Nash MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for HIV and AIDs. “We warmly welcome the news and strongly urge other pharmaceutical companies to follow Gilead’s lead and sign up to the agreement. We must ensure that HIV treatment can be accessible for people in all countries.”
The licence agreement with Gilead sciences will help to make medicines available at a lower cost and in easier to use formulations without delays. The new agreement allows for the production of the HIV medicines tenofovir, emtricitabine, cobicistat, and elvitegravir as well as a combination of these products in a single pill known as the “Quad.” Cobicistat, elvitegravir and the Quad are products still in clinical development. The licence also allows for the development and manufacture of other combinations that include these medicines. It has real potential to speed the availability and affordability of the latest HIV medication.
Ellen ‘t Hoen, executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool described the announcement as a “milestone in managing patents for public health.”
However Pamela Nash also emphasised that this agreement will not alone solve the problems:
“Firstly this agreement excludes some developing countries with significant burden of HIV such as Brazil. Poor people in need of treatment should be able to reap the benefits of the patent pool wherever they happen to live. Leaders in those countries must exercise all their legal rights to issue compulsory licences to get the medicines their citizens need."
"Secondly this agreement is only with one company. The others who have relevant patents and are currently in negotiations must follow suit and strike deals with the patent pool which give the best possible chance of delivering treatment for all. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson who are not yet in negotiations need to realise that times have changed - their access efforts are simply not good enough. They need to get serious and get negotiating with the pool.”
The agreement has also been welcomed by the Department for International Development: “The United Kingdom has been a strong supporter of the Medicines Patent Pool from day one. We will continue to support the Pool as an important contribution to ensuring that the largest number of people living with HIV get access to the treatments they need," said Stephen O'Brien, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development.
Although much more needs to be done to increase the accessibility of HIV treatments, today’s development is a positive one that has the potential to help provide treatment options not currently available to people living with HIV in developing countries at affordable prices.