Geneva, 3 December 2018: The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) has confirmed funding awards from two major agencies that will support its mandate expansion into patented essential medicines on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Essential Medicines List (EML) – and those with strong potential for future inclusion. The Wellcome Trust will grant 105,000 CHF and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) will award 248,400.00 CHF.

The MPP was founded in 2010 to increase access to, and facilitate the development of, life-saving medicines for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) through an innovative approach to voluntary licensing and patent pooling. Initially the foundation worked with HIV, later expanding to hepatitis C and tuberculosis (TB). In 2016, the WHO recommended the expansion of the MPP to “all disease areas, and for all patented essential medicines on the WHO EML to be licensed into the Pool.”

The MPP launched its new five-year strategy in May 2018, which included a feasibility study exploring an expanded mandate, with an initial focus on small molecules currently included in the WHO EML – and those that may be included in future. Both grants will fund the first steps toward implementation of this expansion.

“We are delighted to receive these grants from two key funders of global public health, underlining the international community’s support for the MPP’s expansion,” said Charles Gore, Executive Director, the MPP.

“While we will continue to focus on our key therapeutic areas of HIV, hepatitis C and TB, we will now be able to explore and implement opportunities for licensing essential medicines in other therapeutic areas, with the aim of accelerating access to key therapies for people living in LMICs.”

The funding from The Wellcome Trust and the SDC will concentrate on the key elements integral to implementing the MPP’s expanded mandate, including developing an implementation plan for the MPP’s new five-year strategy and exploring the MPP’s role in relation to antimicrobial resistance.

“Two billion people worldwide lack access to life-changing treatments – including medicines, vaccines and diagnostic tools. Wellcome spends around £1 billion each year to support research and drive reform to improve health for people around the world. The full benefits of innovations to improve health can only be realised if  they reach the people who need them, especially those living in low- and middle-income countries. Practices such as voluntary licensing, patent pooling and equitable pricing are fundamental to increasing access to prevention, treatment and care. We are pleased to support the MPP in its efforts to speed access in low- and middle-income countries.” Alex Harris, Head of Global Policy at Wellcome.

Read The Wellcome Trust’s statement on equitable access to healthcare interventions here

The SDC funded the MPP’s feasibility study exploring the expansion of its mandate to include other patented priority essential medicines beyond HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis, because the MPP’s model proved to be an effective mechanism to improve affordability of quality-assured medicines for people in low- and middle-income countries – the target groups of SDC.

Alex Schulze, Co-Head of SDC’s Global Programme Health said, “The MPP model fits the Swiss approach to improving access because it promotes voluntary, collaborative solutions with the pharmaceutical industry for reducing prices of essential patented products, while ensuring the quality of those medicines, and protection of intellectual property rights. This is why we support the MPP in the realisation of its expansion programme.”

More on the SDC’s mission here

About the Medicines Patent Pool:

The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) is a United Nations-backed public health organisation working to increase access to, and facilitate the development of, life-saving medicines for low- and middle-income countries. Through its innovative business model, the MPP partners with civil society, governments, international organisations, industry, patient groups and other stakeholders, to prioritise and license needed medicines and pool intellectual property to encourage generic manufacture and the development of new formulations. To date, the MPP has signed agreements with nine patent holders for thirteen HIV antiretrovirals, one HIV technology platform, three hepatitis C direct-acting antivirals and a tuberculosis treatment. The MPP was founded by Unitaid, which serves as sole funder for the MPP’s activities in HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis. The MPP is now expanding its activities to cover Essential Medicines, which requires engagement with many new stakeholders, including potential funders.


Jo Waters
Head of Communications
Medicines Patent Pool