UNITAID – the innovative financing mechanism dedicated to scaling up the treatment of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria – decided to explore the possibility of establishing a patent pool for medicines in July 2008.  It then decided in December 2009 to create and fund a patent pool for medicines.  The Medicines Patent Pool was established in July 2010, and is being funded by UNITAID under a five-year Memorandum of Understanding [pdf].

UNITAID was established in 2006 by the governments of Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the United Kingdom to provide additional funding for the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (TB). UNITAID is hosted by the World Health Organization. Roughly 70% of UNITAID’s funds come from a solidarity levy on airline tickets.  Today, UNITAID is supported by 29 countries and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Through implementing partners, UNITAID funds the purchase of quality-assured drugs and diagnostics for use in developing countries, using its market power to expand supply, promote development of new and better products, cut delivery lead times and reduce prices.  UNITAID’s partners for HIV/AIDS are CHAI (Clinton Health Access Initiative), UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), ESTHER (Ensemble pour une Solidarité Thérapeutique Hospitalière en Reseau) and the Medicines Patent Pool.