The MPP hosted a side event at the 54th WIPO General Assemblies on Tuesday, September 23 to discuss advancing innovation, access and public health through patent licensing and technology transfer. Over the past several years, technology transfer and pro-competitive licensing have been an integral part of discussions held at the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) and the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) of WIPO. The MPP session, with speakers from the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institute of Industrial Property of Chile; the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (IFPMA), focused on the pioneering experience of patent pooling in HIV/AIDS and reviewed ways in which its model could be adapted for other health areas.
Philippe Duneton, Acting Executive Director of UNITAID, MPP’s founder, moderated the event and gave MPP high marks for “providing savings to the international public health community over and above the initial UNITAID investment.” He emphasized that patent pooling was one of the key market interventions that UNITAID has promoted by way of the MPP to increase access.
WHO’s Zafar Mirza, Head of the Department of Public Health, Innovation and IP reviewed the WHO’s goal of increasing access to affordable quality medicines and the distribution of new technologies to combat neglected diseases. Mirza recalled how patent pooling was identified as a promising new mechanism for addressing innovation and access by the WHO member states. The WHO remains a key supporter of the role of the MPP and could imagine greater use of such a model where appropriate for other disease areas.
Greg Perry, MPP Executive Director, provided an overview of the MPP and its strategies to forge public health-oriented licences and to serve as a “one-stop shop” for pharmaceutical and generic companies in efforts to speed access to new ARVs in the developing world. He emphasized that the MPP licences with industry were now covering developing countries where up to 93% of people living with HIV reside, were fully transparent, non-exclusive and promoted public health norms. He noted that MPP licences covered not only low-income countries but also over 70 middle-income countries.
Maximiliano Santa Cruz, National Director of the National Institute of Industrial Property of Chile; DNDi’s Executive Director Bernad Pécoul; Pedro Roffe, Senior Associate, Innovation, Technology and Intellectual Property at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development; and Andrew Jenner, Deputy Executive Director of IFPMA served as panelists for the roundtable discussion. An invited representative of the generic industry, Cipla, was unable to attend.
Pécoul discussed the major barriers to delivering appropriate medicines for children living with HIV, only a quarter of whom have access to ART, and highlighted the importance of the new collaboration among MPP, DNDi, UNITAID and CHAI to accelerate the development of new paediatric formulations. He also stressed the need for patent pooling to encourage the development of new TB regimens. Santa Cruz, Roffe and Jenner all praised the MPP’s pioneering work. Santa Cruz, who also serves as Chair of the MPP’s independent Executive Advisory Group (EAG), emphasized the increasing improvements of MPP agreements. He noted how patent pooling, combined with public health voluntary licensing, was a major tool to bridge innovation and access. He also emphasized the importance of the MPP’s Patent Status Database which provides transparent information on HIV patents in developing countries and recognised the need for patent offices to work closely with the MPP to develop and expand this information source. Roffe noted that the MPP’s agreement with ViiV Healthcare for the recently approved dolutegravir was a “novel concept” as it showed the model was not just for established products. He indicated that in other areas such as climate change efforts to create similar types of mechanisms had not succeeded. MPP was demonstrating that patent pooling could work in HIV even for the newest medicines.
Jenner called the MPP a “bridge between different worlds, between pharmaceutical companies and civil society, between generics and IP holders and between products and patients.” He highlighted the importance of building trust and understanding to bridge these worlds and noted that the MPP had now succeeded in doing this and, consequently, had moved from a political idea to an organisation that was delivering results. The pharmaceutical industry will continue to work with pioneering organizations such as the MPP, DNDi, the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and other public-private partnerships to meet global public health needs for access and innovation.
This is the first event hosted by the MPP at the WIPO General Assemblies to encourage a better understanding of its model and approaches among member states. The event was attended by 80 guests, including member state representatives from Africa, Middle East, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the US, as well as representatives from industry, civil society, UN agencies and other public health IP NGOs.