UNITAID, the international finance mechanism for drugs to treat HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, has given the go-ahead for a patent pool for antiretroviral drugs, a mechanism to promote wider licensing of patented drugs to generic manufacturers, in order to lower the cost of treatment.
The decision, taken by UNITAID's Executive Board, was announced in December 14. The pool, scheduled to start operating in mid-2010, aims to make newer medicines available at lower prices, for low- and middle-income countries.
UNITAID has committed to provide start-up funds of up to US$ 4 million over the next year. Expected savings exceed one billion dollars a year, which will make more medicines available for more people.
The Patent Pool will allow generic companies to make lower cost versions of widely patented new medicines by creating a common space for patent holders to license their technology in exchange for royalties. This will spur competition and further bring down the price of vital new and effective medicines, says UNITAID.
It is hoped that the administrative efficiency of managing voluntary licenses through the patent pool will prove attractive to companies which must currently manage a proliferating number of licenses.
One of the chief merits of the patent pool proposal is the opportunity it gives for the creation of novel fixed-dose drug combinations that will aid adherence and cut down on supply chain management problems. Rather than waiting for 20 years for patents to expire, generic producers would be able to develop new products quickly to respond to emerging needs, says UNITAID.
The idea of this patent pool has been in discussion since 2006 and now we can see it taking some shape, and we hope that patent pools of this kind will be formed in near future for other issues as well.
Source: Aidsmap - Keith Alcorn