MPP’s Executive Director Greg Perry participated in WIF 2014 Tuesday, October 14 discussing patent pooling and licensing as avenues to increasing access to ARVs in developing countries. The event, the only health-focused discussion at the biennial Forum of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), sought to inform the debate on strategic investments in the production of pharmaceuticals. Leading representatives from UNAIDS, communities living with HIV, governments and the private sector specifically focused on different approaches to meeting important public health objectives.
Perry provided a perspective from the Medicines Patent Pool, a promising platform for increasing access to new HIV medicines through public health-oriented licences. He first noted that the international community’s progress in scaling up HIV treatment programmes was due to the relentless efforts of communities living with HIV and to international funding from the Global Fund and President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. He specifically urged “continued support for these agencies.”
MPP’s ED confirmed that patent licensing was not “in competition” with other approaches such as building local production facilities, but rather “complemented efforts to ensure countries with a high HIV/AIDS burden were able to distribute high quality, WHO-prequalified and affordable medicines.” He cited the MPP’s achievements in forging agreements for nine ARVs covering countries that are home to up to 93% of people living with HIV in developing countries.
The last agreement that MPP signed with major patent holder, Gilead Sciences, included “more than 70 middle-income countries,” noted Perry. “MPP has also extended its generic partners to ten and is currently managing 42 HIV pharmaceutical development projects, ” he explained. “We recently engaged with a Chinese manufacturer. This trend will continue.” He also noted a recent agreement signed with ViiV Healthcare allowed “any generic manufacturer in the world the right to produce a promising new medicine, dolutegravir” and that he expects to see more local manufacturers in other countries collaborating with the MPP in the near future.
MPP’s model, licensing new ARVs shortly after registration or in advanced development, can reduce the time delay between the availability of a promising treatment option in high income countries versus low and middle-income nations,” summarized Perry. Panelist Dr. Lindiwe Makubalo, Minister from South Africa’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations commended MPP’s founder UNITAID and the MPP stating “[their] efforts were extremely useful in getting access to medicines.”
Perry credited MPP’s success to intense collaborations with a range of stakeholders — communities living with HIV, governments and importantly industry. To make inroads in improving health outcomes “no one can do it alone and the involvement of the private sector is fundamental.” By working with all key players, we can achieve the best results in ensuring sustainable and universal access to medicines. “For things to move rapidly we need to work closely with the private sector,” concluded Perry. “To move in the right direction, we need guidance from the public sector.”