• AIDS: patent rights versus patient's rights.

      Chirac, P; von Schoen-Angerer, T; Kasper, T; Ford, N; Médecins Sans Frontières, Paris, France. (Elsevier, 2000-08-05)
    • Do patents prevent access to drugs for HIV in developing countries?

      Boelaert, M; Lynen, L; Van Damme, W; Colebunders, R (2002-02-20)
    • Driving a decade of change: HIV/AIDS, patents and access to medicines for all

      Hoen, Ellen 't; Berger, Jonathan; Calmy, Alexandra; Moon, Suerie; Medicines Patent Pool Initiative, UNITAID Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland; SECTION27, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa; HIV Unit, Division of Infectious Disease, Geneva University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland; Médecins Sans Frontières Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, Geneva, Switzerland; Sustainability Science Program, Center for International Development, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA (BioMed Central, 2011-03-27)
      Since 2000, access to antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV infection has dramatically increased to reach more than five million people in developing countries. Essential to this achievement was the dramatic reduction in antiretroviral prices, a result of global political mobilization that cleared the way for competitive production of generic versions of widely patented medicines.Global trade rules agreed upon in 1994 required many developing countries to begin offering patents on medicines for the first time. Government and civil society reaction to expected increases in drug prices precipitated a series of events challenging these rules, culminating in the 2001 World Trade Organization's Doha Declaration on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and Public Health. The Declaration affirmed that patent rules should be interpreted and implemented to protect public health and to promote access to medicines for all. Since Doha, more than 60 low- and middle-income countries have procured generic versions of patented medicines on a large scale.Despite these changes, however, a "treatment timebomb" awaits. First, increasing numbers of people need access to newer antiretrovirals, but treatment costs are rising since new ARVs are likely to be more widely patented in developing countries. Second, policy space to produce or import generic versions of patented medicines is shrinking in some developing countries. Third, funding for medicines is falling far short of needs. Expanded use of the existing flexibilities in patent law and new models to address the second wave of the access to medicines crisis are required.One promising new mechanism is the UNITAID-supported Medicines Patent Pool, which seeks to facilitate access to patents to enable competitive generic medicines production and the development of improved products. Such innovative approaches are possible today due to the previous decade of AIDS activism. However, the Pool is just one of a broad set of policies needed to ensure access to medicines for all; other key measures include sufficient and reliable financing, research and development of new products targeted for use in resource-poor settings, and use of patent law flexibilities. Governments must live up to their obligations to protect access to medicines as a fundamental component of the human right to health.
    • Sustaining Access to Antiretroviral Therapy in the Less-Developed World: Lessons from Brazil and Thailand.

      Ford, N; Wilson, D; Costa Chaves, G; Lotrowska, M; Kijtiwatchakul, K; Médecins Sans Frontières, 522 Mooban Nakorn Thai 14, Ladphrao Soi 101/1, Bangkok 10240, Thailand. nathan.ford@london.msf.org (2007-07)
      ANTIRETROVIRAL ROLLOUT IN BRAZIL AND THAILAND: Brazil and Thailand are among few developing countries to achieve universal access to antiretroviral therapy. Three factors were critical to this success: legislation for free access to treatment; public sector capacity to manufacture medicines; and strong civil society action to support government initiatives to improve access. LOCAL PRODUCTION OF AFFORDABLE, NON-PATENTED DRUGS: Many older antiretroviral drugs are not patented in either country and affordable generic versions are manufactured by local pharmaceutical institutes. EFFORTS TO ENSURE ACCESS TO EXPENSIVE, PATENTED DRUGS: Developing countries were not required to grant patents on medicines until 2005, but under US government threats of trade sanctions, Thailand and Brazil began doing so at least ten years prior to this date. Brazil has used price negotiations with multi-national pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of newer patented antiretrovirals. However, the prices obtained by this approach remain unaffordable. Thailand recently employed compulsory licensing for two antiretrovirals, obtaining substantial price reductions, both for generic and brand products. Following Thailand's example, Brazil has issued its first compulsory license. LESSONS LEARNED: Middle-income countries are unable to pay the high prices of multinational pharmaceutical companies. By relying on negotiations with companies, Brazil pays up to four times more for some drugs compared with prices available internationally. Compulsory licensing has brought treatment with newer antiretrovirals within reach in Thailand, but has resulted in pressure from industry and the US government. An informed and engaged civil society is essential to support governments in putting health before trade.