A New Framework for Evaluating – and Encouraging – Industry’s IP-Sharing Activities for Global Health

A New Framework for Evaluating – and Encouraging – Industry’s IP-Sharing Activities for Global Health

The Access to Medicine Foundation and BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) teamed up to publish a new IP-sharing framework that can guide pharmaceutical companies’ contributions to the development of new and adapted medicines for people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

As leaders in the development of drugs and vaccines, pharmaceutical companies continually generate new intellectual property (IP) assets. These assets include compound libraries, expertise, data, and technologies. In addition to conducting research and development (R&D) in-house, companies can accelerate R&D by sharing their IP with third-party researchers. Historically, sharing IP with external researchers has not been common practice, particularly for supporting the development of repurposed or adapted products for people living in LMICs.

In recent years, IP-sharing for R&D has been pioneered mainly in the neglected infectious disease space. Pharmaceutical companies have opened up their compound libraries for screening by independent research groups. IP-sharing agreements have the greatest potential public health benefit when they include terms ensuring that any resulting new products are rapidly made accessible to populations in LMICs.

For 10 years, the Access to Medicine Index has tracked how the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies share IP assets to accelerate product R&D for high-burden and priority diseases. The 2016 Index found that 14 out of the 20 companies evaluated provided evidence of 32 instances in which they shared IP with research institutions or drug-discovery groups on terms that aim to support access to any resulting products in LMICs. Most of this IP-sharing was intended to accelerate R&D for HIV/AIDS, lower respiratory infections, malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

In collaboration with BVGH, the Access to Medicine Foundation has developed a new framework for evaluating industry IP-sharing agreements for R&D. The framework will be used for the first time as part of the 2018 Access to Medicine Index analysis. The framework describes 11 IP asset categories, all of which are valuable to R&D for high-burden and priority diseases. The categories of assets are differentiated based on factors including phase of development and publication status. Each asset type was rated on a set of six criteria that measure the shared IP in terms of risk, effort, and potential value to accelerating R&D. The Access to Medicine Foundation and BVGH published an article that describes the framework, how it was developed, and how it can be used by pharmaceutical companies to guide their development of IP-sharing strategies to accelerate R&D for global health needs.

BVGH manages an IP-sharing platform – the WIPO Re:Search consortium – together with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), to accelerate product development for malaria, tuberculosis, and NTDs. Eight pharmaceutical companies – Eisai Co., Ltd.; GlaxoSmithKline (GSK); Janssen, the Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson; Merck KGaA; Merck & Co., Inc. (MSD); Novartis AG; Pfizer Inc.; and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. – are Members of the WIPO Re:Search consortium. These eight companies join a world-class network of leading scientific institutions representing 40 countries including many endemic to the diseases the Consortium is working to eliminate. Through the Consortium, companies can share their IP assets and know-how with these scientific leaders, and catalyze the development of much-needed medical interventions. Since the Consortium’s launch in 2011, BVGH has facilitated more than 120 partnerships between WIPO Re:Search Members, including 72 partnerships involving a pharmaceutical company Member.

 

About the Access to Medicine Foundation

The Access to Medicine Foundation is an independent non-profit organization based in the Netherlands. It aims to advance access to medicine in low-and middle-income countries by stimulating and guiding the pharmaceutical industry to play a greater role in improving access.

About BIO Ventures for Global Health

BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) is a non-profit organization working at the crossroads of the private and public sectors to advance research and improve health. BVGH connects people, resources, and ideas across biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, governments, and non-profits to solve global health issues.

BVGH accelerates research and development for diseases of poverty through its WIPO Re:Search program, expands access to cancer medicines and technologies in Africa through its African Access Initiative (AAI) and builds biomedical research and development capacity in low- and middle-income countries through its fellowship and equipment donation programs.

 

Jennifer Dent, President, BIO Ventures for Global Health

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