BMS & Medicines Patent Pool Collaborates Over HIV Drug “Atazanavir”

By 2016, there will be approx. 1 M HIV patients who will need second-line AIDS treatment as offered by Bristol-Myers Squibb’s HIV drug, “Atazanavir” (brand name Reyataz). Taking that in serious consideration, BMS has agreed to enter a joint patent licensing program with United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and share intellectual property rights of this vital HIV/AIDS drug.

The agreement was announced on 12 December, 2013. It will enable generic drug firms around the world to produce Atazanavir’s affordable versions thereby making AIDS treatment widely and easily available in poor countries. The Medicines Patent Pool offers a public-health driven business model that aims to lower the prices of HIV medicines and facilitate the development of better-adapted HIV medicines in developing countries. It was founded in 2010 through the WHO-based financing mechanism UNITAID.

Medicines Patent Pool’s Other Agreements:

•  Back in August 2013, MPP and Roche have entered an agreement to increase access to valganciclovir, a key oral medicine to treat cytomegalovirus (CMV), a viral infection that can cause blindness in people living with HIV.

• MPP also collaborated with ViiV Healthcare – a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Shionogi to facilitate greater availability of key pediatric HIV medicine, abacavir.

Patent Pools:
It is a consortium of at least two companies who have decided to offer a joint license for their patents that are essential to the practice of a defined specification. In simple words, it is a joint licensing program where a number of firms pool all their relevant patents that pertain to a particular technology/specification.

Benefits –  Patent pools are exemplary in the sense that they unite the members of an otherwise competitive industry to join a common cause to create some resource that is to their collective benefit. The other benefits of patent pools are-

• Helps in the deployment of new technologies to the marketplace and set a market rate for Essential Patents. This encourages licensors to join the program and encourages licensees to obtain license. Thus, it saves time and effort in getting access to some Essential Patents

• Helps in integrating complementary technologies and reduce transaction costs for both licensors and licensees thereby removing any uncertainty about the availability of patent licenses and their costs

• Besides saving transaction costs for both licensee and patentee, in case of blocking patents, patent pools are possibly the only reasonable method for making the invention available in the public domain.

• Patent pools do not completely eliminate risk. However, if patent holders (of other patent pools) and those outside the pool pose threat of a patent infringement lawsuit, being a part of a patent pool does help as all its member share common interests.

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