Pharma giants open up drug patents in new collaboration

Pharmaceutical giants and the UN intellectual property agency launched Wednesday a collaboration to share certain patented drug information with public organisations.

The cooperation is aimed at the development of and vaccines for around 20 diseases, including neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis, and will involve major drugmakers including Novartis, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merck and Sanofi.

AstraZeneca chief executive David Brennan said the British would make all its patents available to the collaboration called WIPO Re:Search.

"WIPO Re:Search has the potential to make a real impact on , which is why we are proud to make all patents owned by AstraZeneca available to this important initiative," he said.

Under the scheme, the intellectual property licences on these drugs would be available free of charge for the world's poorest countries, said Francis Gurry, who heads the Agency.

Developed nations meanwhile would have to negotiate for the licences, although Gurry said the fee levied would be "modest."

Some are regarded to be "neglected," as just one percent of the 1,400 drugs developed between 1975 and 1999 were targetted at illnesses which affect one in every six persons, according to the .

These diseases threaten the lives of a billion people in the world, the health agency added.

Medecins sans Frontieres however, criticised the WIPO initiative, noting that it offers royalty-free licences to least developed countries only.

It noted that many people affected by the diseases are not in the least developed countries. These countries would have to negotiate for access to patents on a case-by-case basis.

"WIPO is taking an unacceptable step in the wrong direction by setting the bar for access too low," said the medical NGO.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cybersquatting disputes grow in 2010

Mar 31, 2011

The number of challenges for cybersquatting -- the misleading use of trademarks for Internet domain names -- rose by 28 percent last year, the World Intellectual Property Organisation said Thursday.

Recommended for you

WHO: Millions of Ebola vaccine doses ready in 2015

Oct 24, 2014

The World Health Organization says millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines will start being tested in March.

Added benefit of vedolizumab is not proven

Oct 23, 2014

Vedolizumab (trade name Entyvio) has been approved since May 2014 for patients with moderately to severely active Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis. In an early benefit assessment pursuant to the Act on the Reform of the ...

Seaweed menace may yield new medicines

Oct 22, 2014

An invasive seaweed clogging up British coasts could be a blessing in disguise. University of Greenwich scientists have won a cash award to turn it into valuable compounds which can lead to new, life-saving drugs.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sean_W
not rated yet Oct 26, 2011
"Medecins sans Frontieres however, criticised the WIPO initiative, noting that it offers royalty-free licences to least developed countries only.
"


That's like criticizing a company like a Wal-Mart for donating to a local food bank that only serves the poor just because some rich people have malnourished kids who won't benefit. Drug companies are not founded to give free drugs to everyone. Well, some might be but unsurprisingly they don't stay in business very long. These companies make a massively charitable act and all some people can say is: why don't you do more? Why don't you give everything and go out of business?

No good deed goes unpunished.
hush1
not rated yet Oct 26, 2011
No 'social' medical care. Be consequential. Be consistent.