Intellectual Property Rights, Market Competition and Access to Affordable Antiretrovirals
(2014; 11 pages)

Antiviral Therapy 2014; 19 Suppl 3: 57-67


The number of patients receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) has increased from around half a million in 2003 to almost 10 million in only 10 years, and will continue to increase in the coming years. Over 16 million more are eligible to start ART according to the last World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. The demand is also switching from the less expensive antiretrovirals (ARVs) that allowed such scale-up to newer more expensive ones with fewer side effects or those that can be used by people who have developed resistance to first-line treatment. However, patents on these new drugs can delay robust generic competition and, consequently, price reduction made possible by economies of scale. Various ways to address this issue have been envisaged or implemented, including the use of the flexibilities available under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), systematic widespread voluntary licensing, of which the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) is an example, and the application of different prices in different countries, called tiered pricing. This paper helps explain the impact of patents on market competition for ARVs and analyses various approaches available today to minimize this impact.

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