via Nature Medicine, by Asher Mullard

In July, the global health financing mechanism UNITAID established an intellectual property–sharing scheme focused on scaling up access to new and lower-priced antiretroviral drugs in the developing world. The initiative—called the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP)—aims to streamline licensing processes, drive the combination of multiple HIV medicines into one pill and foster the development of drug formulations for children. In September, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) became the first contributor to the venture, licensing a suite of patents related to protease inhibitors that are used to treat HIV. The task of bringing drug firms and other key stakeholders into the fold now falls on Ellen ‘t Hoen, a lawyer who became MPP’s executive director last month after previously heading up Médecins Sans Frontières’ Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. Asher Mullard spoke to Hoen about the challenges of encouraging companies to share their intellectual property in a normally guarded sector.

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