UNITAID Board Members Representing NGOs and Communities Welcome Licence Agreement between Gilead and the Medicines Patent Pool as a Promising Step Towards Increased Access
The Medicines Patent Pool, an initiativedeveloped by UNITAID and launched in 2010, announced its first license agreement with a pharmaceutical company had been concluded this week. The agreement, with Gilead Sciences, covers five key HIV treatment products, including 3 pipeline products.
“We welcome this agreement as a move in the right direction to making new, effective HIV medicines available and affordable in developing countries”, said Kim Nichols, incoming UNITAID Board Member representing NGOs, of African Services Committee. “We look forward to new products being made by generic companies using these licenses, and competition driving prices down for many low and middle-income countries”.
At the same time, the NGOs and Communities delegations are concerned at some restrictions in the agreement, notably that only Gilead or another licensee may supply the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) in any treatments produced, and that only Indian-based companies may manufacture products resulting from the agreement. Of great concern is the exclusion of key countries from the license agreement.
“While we are very pleased that the licences could provide people in many countries with life saving medicines,we are concerned that people in countries such as Brazil will not benefit” said Nelson Otwoma, Alternate Board Member representing Communities, of the National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya. “However, excluded countries should continue to pursue alternative means to secure treatment, including compulsory licenses.”
The delegations emphasised the need for improving the Gilead licence, and also urged improved licence agreements be signed with other companies in negotiations.
Mr Otwoma added, “It is now shamefully obvious which companies are not committed to increasing access to their medicines for the world’s poorest people however. We urge those companies who are not even in formal discussions with the Patent Pool yet, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott and Merck, to enter negotiations immediately.”
About the Civil Society Delegations to UNITAID:
The UNITAID Board has 12 seats, including a seat for communities affected by HIV, TB or malaria, and another seat for NGOs involved in the global fight against these diseases. The Communities’ and NGO delegates to the UNITAID Board form the Civil Society delegations. Communities’ and NGOs on the Board choose to work together a great deal, but constitute two distinct delegations, each with its own voice and strengths.
Board Member, Communities: Dr Esther Tallah, Cameroon Coalition Against Malaria
Alternate Board Member, Communities: Mr Nelson Otwoma, National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Board Member, NGOs (Outgoing): Dr Mohga Kamal-Yanni, Oxfam GB
Alternate Board Member, NGOs (Incoming Board Member): Ms Kim Nichols, African Services Committee
For more information contact Jessica Hamer [email protected] (Liaison Officer, Civil Society Delegations to UNITAID)