The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has announced “Re:Search,” a new consortium of pharmaceutical manufacturers, government entities, and nonprofit organizations which will share intellectual property in order to drive research and development for new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for TB, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases.
WIPO Director Francis Gurry called RE:Search a “ground breaking example of how a multi-stakeholder coalition can put IP to work for social benefit.”
AstraZeneca has committed to make all of its patents available to the consortium. Other providers of IP in the consortium include Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, the California Institute of Technology, the Center for World Health & Medicine, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Eisai, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), GlaxoSmithKline, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Medicines for Malaria Venture, Merck, Novartis, PATH, Pfizer, Sanofi, the South African Medical Research Council, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of California, Berkeley, University of Dundee, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
According to the WIPO press release:
Membership in WIPO Re:Search as a user, provider, or supporter is open to all organizations that endorse, adhere to, and support the project’s Guiding Principles. These Guiding Principles include the commitment that IP licensed via WIPO Re:Search will be licensed on a royalty-free basis for research and development on neglected tropical diseases in any country and on a royalty-free basis for sale of neglected tropical disease medicines in, or to, least developed countries.
A statement from the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) announced its participation in the program, saying it will provide data on the development of drugs for leishmaniasis and human African trypanosomiasis. While supporting the initiative, DNDi Executive Director Bernard Pecoul suggested two changes: “‘Firstly, WIPO and other important players engaged in global health should take a step further in terms of access, especially by including not only the least developed countries but all neglected disease-endemic countries. Secondly, we need to aim for more transparency in licensing practices that have a public health goal. We have to go beyond the minimum.”
A statement from Médecins Sans Frontières noted that “Any initiative that seeks to harness biomedical innovation to improve global health is welcome, and the principle of open access to compound libraries and regulatory data is one that we support,” but criticized its focus on least developed countries: “WIPO is a norm-setting agency – and one mandated through the WIPO Development Agenda to facilitate access to knowledge and technology for all developing countries including LDCs. By agreeing to licensing terms that have an unacceptably limited geographic scope, WIPO is taking a step in the wrong direction and setting a bad precedent for other licensing arrangements.”
- Press Release. “Leading Pharmaceutical Companies & Research Institutions Offer IP and Expertise for use in Treating Neglected Tropical Diseases as Part of WIPO Re:Search.” October 26, 2011.
- Video of Press Conference Announcing Re:Search.
- Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative. DNDi Joins WIPO Open Innovation Platform But Calls for More Ambitious Provisions for Innovation and Access. October 26, 2011.
- Médecins Sans Frontières. WIPO NTD Consortium Access Provisions Set a Bad Precedent by Excluding Countries and Patients. October 26, 2011.
- UN News Centre. Search for malaria and tuberculosis vaccines put on fast track by UN partnership. October 26, 2011.