Brussels, 18 Dec 2003
A new UK based charity has brought together scientists, pharmaceutical companies, intellectual property (IP) experts and governments from around the world to find innovative approaches to IP management in order to deliver life saving drugs to developing countries.
The centre for the management of intellectual property in health research and development (MIHR) is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and supported by the UK department for international development and the Wellcome Trust. It presented the first creative solutions to IP management at a launch reception in Oxford, UK, on 16 December.
Dr Cathy Garner, chief executive of MIHR, said: 'IP has become a contentious issue in the development of healthcare products for developing countries, brought into focus by the AIDS pandemic in Africa. But the issue is really the huge gap between western and third world countries.
'The lack of market returns in developing countries means that most new drugs are not aimed at improving the health of these populations, while existing drugs are too expensive for the majority.'
According to MIHR, of the 1,300 new medical compounds created in the last 25 years, only 11 were for tropical diseases affecting developing countries, and six of those were for animals. The shortage of skilled professionals to manage and protect IP rights in poorer countries is also a big problem.
The approach that MIHR plans to take involves managing IP rights so that developing countries can benefit from medical discoveries, without undermining market positions in the developed world.
Working with its 43 member organisations, including partners in the UK, Netherlands and Switzerland, MIHR plans to promote public-private partnerships to develop drugs for neglected diseases, and introduce humanitarian clauses into licensing agreements. Other initiatives will include promoting a wider access to important research tools, and IP management training for scientists in health research and development.
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