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Taking the Plunge

How the UNITAID Patent Pool Could Help Increase Access to Newer ARVs and Stimulate Innovation

Photos from Taking the Plunge on August 5, 2008

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Tuesday, 5 August 2008. 7.00 – 8.30 am
XVII International AIDS Conference
Banamex Center, Mexico City
Skills Building Room 9

Organized by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines and OXFAM

For additional information and RSVP contact Mai Do;

The recent groundbreaking decision taken by UNITAID's board to in principle establish a patent pool could hold the key to future access to affordable newer ARVs.

A patent pool is a mechanism whereby a number of patents held by different entities are made available to other interested parties for production or further development. The patent holders in return receive royalties paid by those using the patents. The pool manages the licenses, patent negotiations, and royalty payments, which streamlines the process.

A patent pool could facilitate, for example, the development of pediatric formulations or much-needed fixed-dose combinations (FDCs) for less toxic first-line, and for second-line treatments, for which patents on individual compounds otherwise pose a barrier. It could also help speed up the availability of generic versions of new medicines, as production could begin well before the 20-year patent terms expire.

Critical to a patent pool's success, however, is the willingness of the patent holders to include their patent rights in the pool.

This session will provide a briefing on the UNITAID patent pool, explore the pros and cons of patent pools and will be followed by a discussion. Speakers will include representatives from the pharmaceutical industry, UNITAID, and NGOs.


  • Chair: Dr. Sigrun Møgedal, Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway
  • Dr. Jorge Bermudez, Executive Secretary, UNITAID
    How a patent pool can help increase access to ARVs
  • James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International
    Medicines patent pool, lessons from other fields of technology


  • Gregg H. Alton, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Gilead
    An Industry Perspective on the UNITAID Patent Pool Proposal


  • Ellen 't Hoen, Director Policy Advocacy, Médecins Sans Frontières
    Access to new ARVs and pediatric ARV treatments – opportunities of a patent pool

    Download mp3

  • Dr Mohga Kamal-Yanni, Senior health and HIV policy advisor, OXFAM GB
    Can the patent pool deliver on the need for a systematic approach to patent barriers to access.

Panel Discussion: