Challenging intellectual properties of HIV treatment in Ukraine

Challenging intellectual properties of HIV treatment in Ukraine

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A resilient public health system is a common good that we are all interested in

In Ukraine, HIV medication is provided for free via the state program. However, price reductions should allow the state to buy more medicines for the same budget and to increase treatment coverage. For several years, Mykyta Trofymenko, Valeriia Rachnynska and Dmytro Sherembey of 100% Life advocated for availability of affordable generic medication - with positive results in 2021. They are happy to share with us successes and recommendations when it comes to challenging intellectual property barriers, and the impact of the war in Ukraine on patent law reform.

What result in your patent law reform advocacy really stands out for you?

“The most notable achievement is adoption of bill No. 2259”, says Mykyta. “This bill reforms patent law and implements several TRIPS Flexibilities to Ukrainian legislation, among others provisions that accelerate availability of generic medicines. For several years 100% Life has been advocating for those amendments. It is one of the most effective tools to increase access to treatment in a limited resource setting.”

Valeriia adds: “A decrease in medicine prices means that significant funds could be saved. For example, now Ukraine plans to procure PrEP for the first time via the state budget. We consider that as a significant advancement. Prevention is always better than having to deal with the consequences of the prevention gap.”

Mykyta
Mykyta Trofymenko of 100% Life
Mykyta
Mykyta Trofymenko of 100% Life

Looking back, what are you most proud of?

Mykyta: “I’m proud that we have managed to change the narrative related to medicines patenting. At the beginning of the project most of the stakeholders were not aware of the benefits of patent law reform. We relied mostly on WHO, UNDP and UNCTAD guidelines for the examination of patent applications related to pharmaceuticals, as well as examples of successful experience in other countries.”

"The Aidsfonds project contributed to a two-fold price reduction for my ARV medicine lopinavir/ritonavir and its price continues to decrease due to the generic competition”, tells Valeriia.  

“State of affairs radically changed now and implementation of the TRIPS Flexibilities is supported by two ministries, national pharmaceutical companies, IP academia and the majority of civil society organisations”, Mykyta continues.

Valeriia
Valeriia Rachnynska of 100% Life
Valeriia
Valeriia Rachnynska of 100% Life

What is your key recommendation for patent law reform advocacy?

Mykyta: “Our advice would be to define and engage with stakeholders who potentially could support your patent law reform advocacy. In order to successfully convince them to support your cause, it is essential to provide concrete data, such as price and patent analyses, market intelligence and successful foreign experience. As soon as stakeholders realize the benefits of prompt generic entrance to the national pharmaceutical market, they will support that idea. A resilient public health system is a common good that we are all interested in.”   

Dmytro concludes: No other steps for overcoming HIV, TB and other epidemics will be effective without the first step - ensuring full treatment coverage. It is possible only under the condition of consolidation of all stakeholders for the sake of a noble supreme goal - protection of all people's health.

Dmytro Sherembey
Dmytro Sherembey of 100% Life
Dmytro Sherembey
Dmytro Sherembey of 100% Life

How does the war impact patent law reform?

Mykyta: "The war in Ukraine emphasized the importance of the patent law reform. Supply chains are disrupted as traditional delivery air routes are not available anymore and medicines could be imported only by land. Due to the war 100% Life could make use of paragraph 73 of the TRIPS Agreement, that can only be applied in times of war. It allows a member state to take any action considered necessary for the protection of its essential security interests taken in time of war or other emergency in international relations. By using this paragraph we aim to waive patents for most essential medicines, like ARVs, anticancer drugs and medical devices such as medical tourniquets. In case of success it could alleviate the public health crisis caused by the war ánd this will be the first case of application of the Article 73 of TRIPS Agreement worldwide.

The negative impact of the war on the state's economy and further necessity to support national manufacturers gave additional solid substantiation to continue our work on improvement of compulsory licensing and government use mechanisms. Development of these legislative changes is currently ongoing."

About 100% Life and the Aidsfonds advocacy project

100% Life is the national network of people living with HIV in Ukraine. Mykyta Trofymenko works as Intellectual Property Counselor, Dmytro Sherembey is Head of Coordination Council and Valeriia Rachynska is HIV activist. All three work with 100% Life. Furthermore, Mykyta is coordinator of the advocacy project implemented under the Challenging intellectual property barriers programme funded by Aidsfonds.

Header photo: Valeriia Rachnynska

All photos courtesy of 100% Life

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