Oxfam welcomes Gilead’s historic decision to make HIV drugs accessible to poor

Published: 12 July 2011

Oxfam today praised the Medicine Patent Pool (MPP) for securing the first licenses for HIV medicines with the pharmaceutical company Gilead, a move that will boost the affordability and effectiveness of HIV treatment in poor countries.

Mohga Kamal-Yanni, Oxfam senior health policy adviser, said: “We welcome Gilead’s leadership in taking this historic step and making its current and future HIV medicines available to low-cost producers through the patent pool. Today’s announcement is a significant breakthrough in the fight against HIV and AIDS in poor countries.   

“Other pharmaceutical companies now have no excuse for refusing to licence their drugs to the pool. Companies such as ViiV and Merck who are already in discussions with the pool need to get on board as quickly as possible to ensure the best possible medicines are made available to poor people at affordable prices. Others, such as Abbott, which have so far failed to engage at all with the pool should be ashamed of themselves and should start negotiations as soon as possible.”

Oxfam estimates that today’s announcement could benefit nearly all children living with HIV in low-income countries and around 85% of people living with HIV in low and middle income countries.

Commenting on the exclusion of some middle-income countries from the benefits of the agreement between Gilead and the MPP, Kamal-Yanni said: “It is disappointing that poor people in countries such as Brazil will be excluded from the benefits of today's announcement. The US National Institutes of Health set the benchmark for licenses in terms of geographical coverage and the scope of the licence. We urge all pharmaceutical companies to license their drugs with the minimum possible conditions. Gilead and the patent pool should work together to improve the current licences.”  

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Notes to editor:

The Medicines Patent Pool aims to improve the availability of affordable and effective medicines for people living with HIV and AIDS in poor countries. It acts as a one stop-shop for producers of generic medicines allowing them to produce patented drugs under license.

Gilead is the first pharmaceutical company and second organization to license its patented drugs to the pool. It follows the US National Institutes of Health which agreed to license its drug darunavir to the pool last year.

Gilead's announcement press release

Contact Information

Further information: Jon Slater +44 (0)1865472249/ +44 (0)7876 476403/ jslater@oxfam.org.uk 

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