Description: A patent pool which reduces the cost of drugs treating HIV, viral hepatitis C and tuberculosis.
Start date: Launched in 2010.
The MPP is an organisation funded by UNITAID which negotiates directly with drugs companies to encourage them to voluntarily join an HIV/AIDS patent pool.1
This makes it easier for fixed-dose combinations (which require licenses to multiple drugs) to be created. Moreover, generic manufacturers can obtain licenses more easily, which increases competition and reduces price.2
The UNITAID model was submitted to the Expert Working Group (EWG) on R&D Financing and Coordination in 2008, and the MPP was launched in 2010.
9 patent holders hold MPP agreements, 17 generic companies have been sublicensed, and 16 products are licensed to the MPP. The MPP now also includes some treatments relating to Tuberculosis and Hepatitis C.3
Scope: The MPP targets tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. It affects only the licensing stage of research rather than the funding of research itself (though licensing in turn affects manufacture and some late-stage development).
Access: By making it easier for generics to obtain licenses, and therefore increasing competition, the MPP reduces the price of the drugs in its pool. It does not incentivise distribution.
Innovation: Incentives are not directly linked to health impact. Because the MPP targets diseases which mostly affect the poor, it may well still have a net positive health impact.
Efficiency: The MPP is fairly cheap to run and also makes the licensing process in general more cost-effective. It stimulates competition in manufacture, and so is partially market-based.
Governability: The MPP is successfully managed by a governance board and an expert advisory group. As a model it does not require complex global governance. As it targets the licensing stage, it is also in possession of relatively good information on the drugs required, so selection is not so great an issue.
Political Feasibility: The MPP inhabits the current patent system, and has proved fairly easy to implement. There are also other examples of patent pools which have been successfully implemented.
The MPP is a “downstream” patent pool which targets patents related to treatment products. Traditional patent pools tend instead to be “upstream”, and to focus on facilitating product development.6
If the Fund for research in Neglected Tropical Diseases (FRiND) operated licensing exclusivity for FRiND itself, then it would become a patent pool similar to the MPP, but focused on neglected diseases.
The Chagas Disease Prize Fund explicitly cited the MPP as a possible model for its patent pool. The Tuberculosis Prize is similar to the Chagas Disease Prize Fund.
The Developing Economies\’ Fund for Essential New Drugs (DEFEND), would be a fund to purchase licenses for drugs, which could then be produced and sold more cheaply. This is a similar idea to the MPP.7
The WHO global consortium would also have a patent pool, but it would be compulsory for those in receipt of consortium funding.
The Pool for Open Innovation against Neglected Tropical Diseases, superseded by WIPO’s Re:Search, is an information and patent pool.8
The Essential Patent Pool for AIDS, proposed in 2005 by Love and others, is in essence a precursor of the MPP.9
License purchase is similar to creating a patent pool like MPP or the pools envisaged by FRiND.
Generic drug companies
Stakeholders on board:
Website: “Medicines Patent Pool.” Accessed July 13, 2017. http://www.medicinespatentpool.org.
On the MPP:
Bermudez, Jorge, and Ellen ’t Hoen. “The UNITAID Patent Pool Initiative: Bringing Patents Together for the Common Good.” The Open AIDS Journal 4 (2010): 37–40. doi:10.2174⁄1874613601004020037.
Childs, Michelle. “Towards a Patent Pool for HIV Medicines: The Background.” The Open AIDS Journal 4 (2010): 33.
Cox, Krista L. “The Medicines Patent Pool: Promoting Access and Innovation for Life-Saving Medicines through Voluntary Licenses,” 2012. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2076717.
Gold, E. Richard, Tina Piper, Jean-Frédéric Morin, L. Karen Durell, Julia Carbone, and Elisa Henry. “Preliminary Legal Review of Proposed Medicines Patent Pool.” UNITAID [online], 2007. http://www.academia.edu/download/31465329/00000003-1.pdf.
Hoen, Ellen ’t, Jonathan Berger, Alexandra Calmy, and Suerie Moon. “Driving a Decade of Change: HIV/AIDS, Patents and Access to Medicines for All.” Journal of the International AIDS Society 14, no. 1 (2011): 15.
Hollis, Aidan, and Thomas Pogge. The Health Impact Fund: Making New Medicines Accessible for All. Incentives for Global Health, 2008. http://healthimpactfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/hif_book.pdf.
“Research and Development to Meet Health Needs in Developing Countries: Strengthening Global Financing and Coordination.” Report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination. World Health Organisation, 2012. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/254706/1/9789241503457-eng.pdf?ua=1.
Hoffman, Steven J., and Karen So. “Assessing 15 Proposals for Promoting Innovation and Access to Medicines Globally.” Annals of Global Health, Tropical Medicine in the Era of Global Connectivity, 80, no. 6 (2014): 432–43. doi:10.1016/j.aogh.2015.02.004.
Pool, Medicines Patent. Progress and Achievements of the Medicines Patent Pool 2010–2015, 2016.
UNITAID. “The HIV/AIDS Medicines Patent Pool Initiative Overview,” n.d. http://www.who.int/hiv/amds/unitaid_patent_pool_initiative.pdf.
On medical patent pools more generally:
Jeanne Clark, Joe Piccolo, Brian Stanton, and Karin Tyson. “PATENT POOLS: A SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF ACCESS IN BIOTECHNOLOGY PATENTS?” United States Patent and Trademark Office, 2000. https://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/dapp/opla/patentpool.pdf.
Satyanarayana, Kanikaram, and Sadhana Srivastava. “Patent Pooling for Promoting Access to Antiretroviral Drugs (ARVs) – A Strategic Option for India.” The Open AIDS Journal 4, no. 1 (2010). doi:10.2174⁄1874613601004020041.
Stirner, Beatrice. “Stimulating Research and Development of Pharmaceutical Products for Neglected Diseases.” European Journal of Health Law 15, no. 4 (2008): 391–409. doi:10.1163/157180908X338278.