Thembisa Mkhosana, a mother of two children from Khayelitsha, Cape Town, is at the end of the line. Quite literally. After six years on antiretroviral drugs, she has run out of drug treatment lines to fight the virus that is destroying her.
Thembisa and others in her situation are in desperate need of newer affordable HIV/AIDS drugs. Some of these drugs ARE already available and are being used by patients in rich countries. But people with HIV/AIDS in poor countries can’t get hold of them because they are either not available there or the price is too high.
Patent pool: One solution
A patent pool is one way we could ensure that Thembisa CAN get hold of these existing drugs. AND new AIDS drugs in the future. Right now, UNITAID, the international drug procurement agency, is laying the foundations of such a patent pool.
As people on antiretroviral treatment (ART) develop intolerable side effects or start to develop resistance to their first set of antiretroviral medicines (ARVs), they need to switch to a different drug combination.