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Doctors Without Borders Versus Johnson and Johnson Who Will Not Donate Licenses for HIV/AIDS Drugs as Others Have

Posted Jan 03 2012 9:29pm

Johnson and Johnson refuses to join the Medicines Patent Pool as others have done so generic drugs can be made in developing countries.  As you can read through here, they do get some small payments from licensing the drugs and the other countries might just do a copy cat anyway. image

Johnson and Johnson said there was no urgency here but that does not seem to be the case if you just read the news.  In saying no to the Medicines Patent Pool, Johnson & Johnson has made a conscious, willful decision to turn its back on people living with HIV and there’s even one license held by the NIH that is useless as it is a partial patent for darunavir so without all being members not much gets done.  Here’s a video from South Africa with one doctor talking about their need for some of the J and J drugs.  BD

At the end of 2011, there were about 15 million people who needed HIV/AIDS treatment, but only about 6 million people received proper care.  Part of the reason is that it is costly to treat HIV/AIDS and most people living with HIV/AIDS are poor and live in countries that simply don’t have the means to provide treatment to everyone who needs it.

Although the cost of standard HIV/AIDS treatments have gone down significantly over the years, there are still certain specialized medicines or specialized combinations of medicines that are really expensive. One idea that humanity drew up to reduce the costs of these expensive treatments is something called the Medicines Patent Pool .

The idea is pretty basic. Patent holders from western pharmaceutical giants voluntarily give up their patents for expensive AIDS drugs. A World Health Organization-certified drug manufacturer in say, in India or Kenya, produces cheap generic versions of these expensive drugs for the exclusive sale in the developing world.  They pay a royalty to the original western patent holder, but nothing too onerous.

The western pharma giant gets paid (and gains access to new markets). HIV patients in the developing world get their medicines cheap. Everyone wins, right?  Not so, says Johnson & Johnson which is refusing to turn over three of its patents to the pool.


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