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."