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MEP calls for patent pool ahead of World AIDS Day

November 29, 2009 5:18 PM

Ahead of World Aids Day (1st Dec), a Lib Dem MEP has warned that the prices of AIDS medicines are on the rise again and called for the creation of a patent pool that would help make treatment more affordable and effective for patients suffering from the disease. Fiona Hall MEP has signed a written declaration in the European Parliament calling on governments to support steps taken by UNITAID, an international drug purchasing facility, to create a voluntary patent pool for AIDS medication. The aim is to get different patent-holders to make their patents and other relevant intellectual property available to others, in exchange for royalties from those who use the patents. It is hoped that the patent pool will lower monopoly-related barriers to innovation, accelerate the availability of lower-priced new medicines and reduce the transaction costs of negotiating licences.

Fiona said, "Although AIDS medication has improved over the years, only a third of the 10 million people in need of antiretroviral treatment has access to it and with prices on the rise an increasing number of patients struggles to afford therapy.

"I welcome UNITAID's efforts to make AIDS medication more affordable and accessible and urge ministers to support it. The proposed patent pool has the potential to help millions in desperate need of treatment.

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Full text of the Written Declaration:

Written declaration on the UNITAID HIV patent pool

The European Parliament,

  • having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas only one third of the 10 million people in need of antiretroviral treatment has access to it and the price of medicines is on the rise, with increasing numbers of AIDS patients failing on their first-line therapy, and there is an urgent need to find affordable second-line treatments,

B. whereas two million children are living with HIV but less than 10 % of them have access to the medicines they need, and many of the antiretroviral (ARV) drugs available are not approved for paediatric use,

C. whereas UNITAID has decided to take steps to create a voluntary patent pool for AIDS medicines for developing countries,

D. whereas, a patent pool is a mechanism whereby patents held by different parties are brought together voluntarily, in exchange for royalties, and made available for production and further development,

1. Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States of the EU to recognise the need for the UNITAID patent pool to ensure availability and affordability of HIV medicines for developing countries and to actively support the UNITAID HIV patent pool;

2. Calls, together with international humanitarian organizations, on the pharmaceutical companies to help accelerate the availability of new treatments for millions of people living with HIV/AIDS, by pooling their patents on a list of key HIV medicines;

3. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the Signatories, to the Commission, the Council and the Member States.