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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
GLOBAL: Drugmakers Pool Ideas to Battle Tropical Diseases

October 27, 2011
Reuters (10.26.11) - Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday marked the launch of a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) consortium aimed at promoting intellectual property sharing for the development of drugs to treat neglected diseases like TB and malaria.

"By joining 'WIPO Re:Search,' companies and researchers commit to making selected intellectual property assets available under royalty-free licenses to qualified researchers anywhere in the world for research and development on neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis," said Francis Gurry, director-general of WIPO.

A statement said membership in the consortium is open to all organizations that support the guiding principles of WIPO Re:Search. These include a commitment to licensing intellectual property on a royalty-free basis for research and development on tropical diseases in any country, and on a royalty-free basis for sale of medications for tropical diseases in or to least-developed nations.

Among the drugmakers who have joined the consortium are AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Pfizer. "Increasing access to our collective proprietary information will help advance research into treatment options for these underserved diseases," said AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan, who is also president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations.

But Doctors Without Borders is expressing concern about WIPO's mission. "WIPO is taking an unacceptable step in the wrong direction by setting the bar for access too low," said a DWB statement. "Instead of allowing all countries where neglected disease are prevalent to access the products, the initiative restricts royalty-free licenses to least-developed countries only, with access for other developing countries negotiable."