A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Oxfam today welcomed an agreement between the UNITAID-backed Medicine Patent Pool Foundation (MPPF) and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to license the antiretroviral drug darunavir to the patent pool. The pool was set up to reduce the cost of HIV medicines.
Mohga Kamal-Yanni, Oxfam senior policy adviser, said: "This decision could be a real breakthrough in making new HIV medicines available and affordable to poor people.
"By becoming the first to license a patent to the pool, the National Institutes of Health has shown that one of the world's foremost scientific research institutions believes in its value. Yet one patent is not enough. Successful treatment of HIV requires a combination of medicines, so companies need to step up to the plate and contribute their patents.
"Companies such as ViiV, that claim to be socially responsible while refusing to cooperate with this initiative to make life-saving medicines available to poor people are guilty of outrageous double standards. They now have no excuse for not joining the pool."
The patent pool gives producers and researchers the right to use relevant patents to develop medicines in exchange for a fair royalty payment to the patent-holder. The pool will encourage competition in the market, bring down prices and enable child-friendly formulations. It will allow millions of people to have access to affordable, quality HIV medicines.
Details of the agreement can be found at UNITAID website.
StopAIDSCampaign animation: What is a patent pool?
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Jon Slater, +44(0)7876 476403, or email@example.com