UNITAID approves Patent Pool for HIV Medicines
January 5th, 2010
On December 15, 2009 the UNITAID Board, meeting in Geneva, passed an historic resolution to create a patent pool for HIV drugs. The Oblates, with other faith-based investors in the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), are encouraging major pharmaceutical companies to engage with UNITAID in the development of a robust patent pool.
UNTAID is an international procurement agency responsible for the purchase of drugs against HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. It provides funding to international partners working in global health and health commodities procurement, such as the William J. Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI) and UNICEF. UNITAID was established in 2006 when Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the United Kingdom decided to create an international drug purchase facility financed with sustainable and predictable resources. A tax on airline tickets was chosen as the most appropriate means of providing sustainable funding.
The patent pool initiative, if successful in drawing in pharmaceutical companies, would create a means for the creation of new fixed-dose combinations of HIV-AIDS drugs and the inexpensive production of these FDCs by generic companies. The originator pharmaceutical company would receive, in return, a royalty payment.
For millions of poor people living with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, prices for life-saving HIV drugs sold by pharmaceutical companies are too expensive – particularly needed second-line treatments still under patent protection. The growing need for affordable life-saving HIV treatment has become more pressing as more people in developing countries living with HIV/AIDS fail their long-term treatment first line therapy and need second line HIV treatments.
UNITAID has already identified 19 products from nine companies for the initial process in the patent pool initiative which would ideally come into effect in mid-2010. The organization will now focus on negotiating with pharmaceutical companies about how best to implement the initiative. The proposal of a patent pool has been under discussion for a number of years and was first proposed to UNTAID in 2006 by Knowledge Ecology International and Doctors without Borders.