Pharma giants open up drug patents in new collaboration

October 26, 2011

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.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Can exercise be replaced with a pill?

October 2, 2015

Everyone knows that exercise improves health, and ongoing research continues to uncover increasingly detailed information on its benefits for metabolism, circulation, and improved functioning of organs such as the heart, ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

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.
not rated yet Oct 26, 2011
No 'social' medical care. Be consequential. Be consistent.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.