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Developing Countries: Drugs

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his policy is on the creation of a patent pool to enable access to generic copies of drugs by governments in developing countries. (267910)

The UK Government support the recommendation in the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property to

“examine the feasibility of voluntary patent pools of upstream and downstream technologies to promote innovation of and access to health products and medical devices”.

We have therefore welcomed the investigation of a patent pool for HIV/AIDS treatments being carried out by UNITAID, the international drug purchase facility. This has the objective of making HIV/AIDS drugs more widely available, and of promoting the development of new fixed dose combinations, in particular those suitable for use by children.

We also welcome the recent proposal by GlaxoSmithKline to create a patent pool to facilitate research on neglected tropical diseases, and its intention to place over 800 patents (and patent applications) in such a pool.