Geneva, 20 November 2018 – The Access to Medicine Index (ATM) has today issued its biennial report giving high-ranking scores in its Patents and Licensing section to those companies that have negotiated licences for antiretrovirals and hepatitis C medicines through the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). The report acknowledges the role of the MPP as “the central independent driver of access-oriented licensing – and that licences agreed via the MPP include the majority of the access-oriented terms and conditions looked for by the Index.”

The ATM index independently assesses the top 20 pharmaceutical companies on their efforts to improve access to medicines in developing countries, including how companies manage their patents and licensing responsibly and with transparency. The top four places in the Patents and Licensing chapter go to GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK); Merck & Co., Inc.; Gilead Sciences Inc.; and Bristol-Myers Squibb – all licensing partners of the MPP.

“This is an excellent and important report from the Access to Medicine Foundation,” said Charles Gore, Executive Director, the MPP. “We welcome the comments that acknowledge the continued role of the MPP as a key driver for increased access-oriented licensing. What is also clear from the report is that many companies are still to develop access strategies for essential medicines, including voluntary licensing. We would be happy to hold exploratory discussions with those companies.”

The Index notes that all the top-ranking companies have broad licensing approaches, with comparatively wide geographic coverage. GSK’s licence for dolutegravir (via the MPP) is cited as having “the widest reach of any non-exclusive voluntary licence agreed by any company in scope of the Index.” It became the preferred adult first-line treatment in July 2018, when the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its HIV/AIDS treatment guidelines.

Not included in the Index is the MPP’s most recent licence agreement with AbbVie which, announced on 12 November, came too late for inclusion. The report notes that AbbVie’s glecaprevir/pibrentasvir was the only pan-genotypic regimen for the treatment of hepatitis C that did not have licences in place and that “voluntary licensing could have a significant positive impact on efforts to tackle hepatitis C, which is estimated to affect 71 million people globally.” The latest MPP licence will look to address this issue.

The Index also notes that while licensing has not yet expanded beyond HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, there will be “opportunities for increased engagement from pharmaceutical companies.” In this context, the report references the MPP’s new five-year strategy and plans for an expanded mandate into patented essential medicines on the WHO’s Essential Medicines List – and those with strong potential for future inclusion. This provides an opportunity for companies operating outside of HIV and hepatitis C to consider a licensing strategy for other essential medicines.

Access the full ATM Index 2018 here

To date, the MPP has signed agreements with nine patent holders for 13 HIV antiretrovirals, one HIV technology platform, three hepatitis C direct-acting antivirals and a tuberculosis treatment. Read the MPP’s Licence Overview. The MPP was founded and is funded by Unitaid.


Jo Waters

Head of Communications
+41 79 825 47 86