The Medicines Patent Pool

Image: Momcilo Orlovic/Unitaid

Creating access to affordable, high-quality medicines to treat HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis in lower-resource countries.

Challenges

Many developing countries around the world do not have access to affordable, lifesaving medicines. To achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, at all ages”, essential medicines must be affordable. Patents are intended to reward innovation, but they can sometimes contribute to significant gaps in ensuring access to quality, appropriate, affordable, safe and effective medicines and technologies, particularly in lower-resource countries.

Solutions

Since Unitaid founded the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) in 2010, it has played a critical role in addressing the availability and affordability of quality assured medicines through negotiating voluntary licences with patent holders. Building on its success in creating access to treatments for HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis over the course of the first two grant periods (2010-2020), MPP will expand its scope in this third grant period (2021-2025) to include long-acting technologies as well as patented medicines that feature on WHO’s Essential Medicines List.

Licences negotiated by the MPP permit other pharmaceutical manufacturers to produce generic versions of patented medicines for developing countries that increase competition and help bring prices down. Licences also provide the freedom to develop new treatments, such as paediatric formulations and fixed-dose combinations.

“We are running the biggest antiretroviral therapy programme in the whole world. We would not have been able to do so if not for generics. Companies are now willing to give voluntary licenses for others to manufacture generics.”

DR. AARON MOTSOALEDI, Former MINISTER OF HEALTH, SOUTH AFRICA

Progress so far

Since it was founded in 2010, MPP has revolutionized the access landscape for new treatments in lower-resource countries. Through licensing agreements with ten patent holders for 15 antiretroviral HIV drugs, two hepatitis C antivirals, one TB treatment and one HIV technology platform, MPP is currently working with 22 generic manufacturers and product developers to ensure access to affordable quality medicines.

The MPP-negotiated voluntary license for Dolutegravir (DTG), secured less than a year after FDA approval of the original product, and subsequent sub-licensing to a large pool of generic manufacturers, made this highly effective HIV treatment widely available at much lower cost. Estimates show that by 2030, this licensing agreement will save more than 100,000 lives and generate US$2.6 billion in cost savings.

The impact we are seeking

The MPP increases the speed and scale of access to the most innovative medicines by making them more affordable.

MPP will continue to improve affordable access to essential medicines for TB, HIV and hepatitis C, while exploring new opportunities for treatments. MPP will apply its existing model to cover long-acting technologies (including for malaria), and work to improve access to essential medicines for co-morbidities such as cancer or diabetes.



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