Issue brief |

MSF Review of the July 2011 Gilead licences to the Medicines Patent Pool

The Medicines Patent Pool recently signed its first licence with a pharmaceutical company, Gilead. MSF responded to the announcement but we now take a deeper look at the licence, as well as the benefits and limitations of voluntary licensing more generally.

At a time when many companies and governments are signing secret and limited voluntary licences, MSF considers that the MPP has an important role to play as the only institution that is actively seeking a public health focused approach to voluntary licensing. However, it is important that lessons are learned from the process of negotiating the first licence.

In this document, we set out a series of recommendations that the MPP and its funder, UNITAID, should take to ensure that the MPP has the best chance of succeeding and delivering on its promise of overcoming patents barriers to allow for continued price-busting generic competition and the development of new formulations for adults and children living with HIV.

The initial success of the Pool though depends largely on the pharmaceutical companies’ willingness to licence their patents to the Pool. The pharmaceutical companies vigorously claim that a voluntary solution can deliver for the needs of people living with HIV. The Pool is a test of whether or not the commercial interests that have dominated voluntary licensing can be aligned with public health interests. To date they are failing to live up to their rhetoric. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Abbott, Merck and ViiV, must licence their patents to the Pool for all those who need them in developing countries.