Driving a decade of change: HIV/AIDS, patents and access to medicines for all

Ellen ‘t Hoen et al.

An overview on global antiretroviral access since 2000 based on priced reductions driven by generic drugs, the threat from patent restrictions and the new Patent Pool initiative is available online from the IAS website.

From the abstract summary:

“Global trade rules agreed upon in 1994 required many developing countries to begin offering patents on medicines for the first time. Government and civil society reaction to expected increases in drug prices precipitated a series of events challenging these rules, culminating in the 2001 World Trade Organization’s Doha Declaration on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and Public Health. The Declaration affirmed that patent rules should be interpreted and implemented to protect public health and to promote access to medicines for all. Since Doha, more than 60 low- and middle-income countries have procured generic versions of patented medicines on a large scale.”

“Despite these changes, however, a “treatment timebomb” awaits. First, increasing numbers of people need access to newer antiretrovirals, but treatment costs are rising since new ARVs are likely to be more widely patented in developing countries. Second, policy space to produce or import generic versions of patented medicines is shrinking in some developing countries. Third, funding for medicines is falling far short of needs. Expanded use of the existing flexibilities in patent law and new models to address the second wave of the access to medicines crisis are required.”


Ellen ‘t Hoen et al. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2011, 14:15doi:10.1186/1758-2652-14-15.

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