After 9/11 there was an Anthrax scare. During it, the U.S. government threatened the Bayer Company, the patent holder for the antibiotic ciprofloxin, that they would abrogate the patent because of the risk of Anthrax to the U.S. population.
Patent issues bedevil AIDS treatment programs with drug companies after many years of legal maneuvering finally lowering prices of AIDS drugs for the developing world. Their best price, however, remains twice to several times that of generics. Meanwhile the AIDS epidemic continues with millions already dead and over 20 million currently infected. Only a small fraction of these people are under treatment, in part because of the expense and unavailability of medications to treat the disease.
The U.S. government treatment program limits medications to patented ones and controls the education program–requiring emphasis on abstinence rather than a more broad education program.
The Clinton Foundation has tried to help by raising funds and contracting with generic drug manufacturers and distributing medications to countries with the greatest need.
Meanwhile the Gates Foundation and Bill and Melissa, the generous ones, are missing in action and not at all or minimally involved in the effort to provide medications to AIDS victims. As they put it:
“We support efforts to stop HIV transmission, including development of:
- A safe, effective, and affordable HIV vaccine
Microbicides-gels or creams that women could apply to protect themselves from sexually acquired HIV infection(medicynical note: recently shown to increase the risk and the study stopped)
- Large-scale initiatives to expand access to existing HIV prevention tools, both in countries with emerging epidemics and those already with high HIV infection rates
- Advocacy to build commitment for a science-based approach to stemming the epidemic”
Medicynical note: I tried without success to find a treatment program on the Gates site
Meanwhile Gate is doing this.
Do you think the issue of intellectual property rights keeps the Gate Foundation from providing generics for HIV treatment?