Category Archives: India

Gilead to license several HIV/AIDS drugs to the Medicines Patent Pool

On July 12th Gilead, a US-based pharmaceutical company, announced their plans to license four HIV drugs and one fixed-dose combination to the Medicines Patent Pool. This marks the first agreement between the Medicines Patent Pool and a pharmaceutical company. (woohoo!) Although this is a significant step toward increasing global access to affordable meds, a few concerns remain. The agreement limits manufacturing to one country – India – which in turn limits competition (an important mechanism to drive costs down) and people living in middle-income countries – including China and Brazil – are excluded. You can find a more detailed explanation here.

Wondering what a patent pool is? This animation explains it nicely.

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A Primer on the Subject of Access to Medicines

Here’s a piece I wrote for online reading at Scientific American. It basically tries to cover the main ideas and main challenges in Access to Medicines issues. Not a bad place to start to get into the swing of things. Also, If you’re a reader from Canada, don’t forget to check out aidsaction.ca. Here, you can look up your candidates and send off an email to support the Call to Action to reform Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime and help save lives!

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30 minutes, 70 fates.

You don’t know it, but as I write this piece, there is some serious procrastination going on. My attention span is weak and sidetracked constantly by a variety of diversions, and if you must know, it’s taken me close to half an hour to write these first two sentences. Still, one could argue that none of us are strangers to procrastination, and 30 minutes is relatively short – only a minor instance of time in the grand scheme of things.

But a lot can happen in thirty minutes. Earlier, I had been looking over some 2009 UNAIDS statistics, and noting the numbers issued in the report. They are all very big, big enough certainly to require the pressing of buttons on calculators. More to the point, I learn that during my thirty minutes, approximately 70 people died from HIV/AIDS in Sub-Sahara Africa. That’s 1.3 million victims each year – in Sub-Sahara Africa alone. Many of these were parents leaving orphans, and many were young children just leaving. Most troubling, however, is the fact that all of them suffered their fate with a loss of dignity.

Why do I say this? I say this because people shouldn’t have to die from HIV/AIDS. There are good medicines out there, and they can control the disease. In fact, for those in the developed world, HIV/AIDS is now considered a chronic disorder, not a death sentence. If you are diagnosed, you are no longer forced to take a shortcut to demise. You can still have a long life, you can still be productive, and you can still live with dignity.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t an option for those who passed away. For them, the medicines were out of reach. They were simply too expensive. And from this, you come to realize a cold hard fact in this narrative: that the fate of a person living or dying from HIV/AIDS is determined by their income. This statement is fairly straightforward, with no mincing of words, or confused rhetoric. But for most, it feels fundamentally wrong, and yet, it is a simple reality of how the world works today. Why it works in this way, however, is complicated.
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Great primer on “India+EU+screwing up generic production=people dying” situation

O.K. this article was excellent to get up to speed with something that’s worth the time to get literate about. Granted, the subject doesn’t sound that exciting to the folks who aren’t normally interested in such things – buy hey… That’s what this blog is all about: Getting you familiar with these Access to Medicines topics.

The basic idea is as follows: The EU and India are negotiating how they can be buddies in terms of trade. However, a downstream effect of this, is that generics produced in India (which are a LOT), that also happen to revolve around patents held by European pharmaceuticals (also a LOT), will get phased out in the process. The overall consequence is that production of these drugs, which are currently employed by folks like MSF and in places that desperately need them, will be halted.

Here is the link (below) to check out, but just in case the Lancet has a “limited access policy”, I’m going to reprint the text below the fold for all prosperity since it’s a decent overview of the situation.

LINK: India—EU free-trade pact could stifle generics industry
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