Challenging Intellectual Property Barriers that Prevent Access to Treatment for People Living with HIV

Challenging Intellectual Property Barriers that Prevent Access to Treatment for People Living with HIV

Program

The programme supports civil society organisations addressing intellectual property barriers and holding their governments accountable for access to essential medicines and lowering costs of pharmaceuticals. Overall aim is to contribute to increased access to treatment for people living with HIV.

Seven projects in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Myanmar, South Africa, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zimbabwe have been implemented in 2017-2021. These were funded by Aidsfonds under a €1,5m grant from a private donations call for proposals.

Program details

Time frame
15 June 2017 - 18 July 2022
Budget
€ 1,500,000
Active in
Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), South Africa, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zimbabwe

Objectives

- Repel harmful provisions in free trade agreements;
- incorporate flexibilities in national patent laws;
- ensure that existing flexibilities are used, including the opposition to new patents or issuing compulsory licenses;
- secure political commitment to address medicine patent barriers.

To achieve these objectives civil society organisations use advocacy for the elimination of intellectual property obstacles to generic competition. They conduct research on the consequences of patent barriers on pharmaceuticals. Next to that, they strengthen community responses by mobilizing community groups, governments, media and medical professionals on issues around medicine patents, pricing and intellectual property for them to take a role in advocacy activities.

Community groups

People living with HIV

Background

Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in access to lifesaving medicines for diseases like HIV, TB and Hepatitis C in low- and middle-income countries, mainly due to increased generic competition. Unfortunately, the situation has been changed in the past years and the progress achieved is under threat.

Key countries where generics are produced now grant medicine patents, in order to comply with their international obligations as members of the World Trade Organization. As a result, new medicines enter the market at very high prices, and production of affordable generic medicines is now restricted.

For HIV, this means that countries with successful treatment programmes face a severe financial risk when patients need to shift to newer, more expensive second line drugs. It also means that the affordability of HIV medication for the vast majority who needs it has been put under pressure.

Why challenging intellectual property barriers?

To sustain the HIV-response, a strong civil society, pushing for strategies and policies that result in lower prices for essential pharmaceuticals, is a prerequisite. However, in many parts of the world, civil society is lacking the funds and technical knowledge needed to meaningfully engage at national and global level on questions of intellectual property laws, TRIPS flexibilities and trade negotiations.

Furthermore, it is important that governments further increase their domestic health spending but also make sure that the funds available are spent efficiently. This makes access to affordable generic medicines and removal of intellectual property barriers especially relevant.

Interview: the road to affordable HIV medicine in Indonesia

Indonesia has an increasing rate of new HIV infections, with approximately 46,000 people newly diagnosed per year. Fuelled by stigma and discrimination directed towards people living with HIV, the number of people living with the virus in Indonesia is among the highest in the region. Since 2004, HIV treatment has been available free of charge for patients, with treatment fully subsidised by the government. However, due to the inefficiency of the procurement system, the price of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines paid by the government is among the highest in the world.

In 2016, our partner Indonesia AIDS Coalition started to advocate for accessible treatment for all. After three years, they managed to make an impactful change. In this interview, we spoke to Aditya Wardhana, the Executive Director of IAC, to dive into the grassroots victory for affordable HIV medicines in Indonesia.

Interview: the road to affordable HIV medicine in Indonesia Interview: the road to affordable HIV medicine in Indonesia

Goals

Everyone living with HIV worldwide receives treatment
100%
Contributed within this program

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