Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

The UNITAID Patent Pool Initiative: Bringing Patents Together for the Common Good

By Jorge Bermudez and Ellen 't Hoen


Developing and delivering appropriate, affordable, well-adapted medicines for HIV/AIDS remains an urgent challenge: as first-line therapies fail, increasing numbers of people require costly second-line therapy; one-third of ARVs are not available in pediatric formulations; and certain key first- and second-line triple fixed-dose combinations do not exist or sufficient suppliers are lacking. UNITAID aims to help solve these problems through an innovative initiative for the collective management of intellectual property (IP) rights – a patent pool for HIV medicines. The idea behind a patent pool is that patent holders - companies, governments, researchers or universities - voluntarily offer, under certain conditions, the IP related to their inventions to the patent pool. Any company that wants to use the IP to produce or develop medicines can seek a license from the pool against the payment of royalties, and may then produce the medicines for use in developing countries (conditional upon meeting agreed quality standards). The patent pool will be a voluntary mechanism, meaning its success will largely depend on the willingness of pharmaceutical companies to participate and commit their IP to the pool. Generic producers must also be willing to cooperate. The pool has the potential to provide benefits to all

Topics: Article
Publisher: Bentham Open
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central

Suggested articles


  1. (2009). Agenda item for discussion: UNITAID and WHO secretariat proposal: The priority missing essential medicines for HIV.
  2. (1998). Can patents deter innovation? the anticommons in biomedical research.
  3. (2009). Drug patent plan gets mixed reviews.
  4. (2008). Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property. Resolution 61.21, World Health Assembly, Sixty-first Sess.;
  5. (2009). GSK: please extend patent pool to AIDS drugs. Lancet
  6. (2004). Intellectual property in the context of the WTO TRIPS agreement: challenges for public health. Rio de Janeiro: FIOCRUZ
  7. (2008). Knowledge Ecology International, Médecins Sans Frontières Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, Oxfam. Panel discussion: Taking the plunge: How the UNITAID patent pool could help increase access to newer ARVs and stimulate innovation. 5
  8. (2007). Organization: UNITAID.
  9. (2006). Organization. Antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection in adults and adolescents: Recommendations for a public health approach.
  10. (2006). Patent pools and diagnostic testing. Trends Biotechnol
  11. (2009). Patent pools: an idea whose time has come. BMJ
  12. (2008). report on the global AIDS epidemic. Geneva: UNAIDS;
  13. (2007). Survey of patent pools demonstrates variety of purposes and management structures.
  14. (2009). The global politics of pharmaceutical monopoly power: Drug patents, access, innovation, and the application of the WTO doha declaration on TRIPS and public health.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.