Strategy and Related Feasibility Study Call for the Expansion of the MPP's Mandate to Patented Medicines on the World Health Organization's Model List of Essential Medicines
The Medicines Patent Pool Foundation (MPP) released its five-year strategic plan during a side event at the 71st World Health Assembly this evening. The strategy calls for renewed efforts to reach people living with HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) with better-adapted, affordable medicines.
Based on a feasibility study also presented at the MPP-partner event, The Path to Universal Health Coverage: Access to Affordable Treatments, the plan supports the expansion of the MPP model to other patented medicines with high medical value, starting with small molecules on the World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines (EML).
"Over the past eight years, the MPP has made significant inroads in supporting the scale-up of new antiretrovirals, as well as curative hepatitis C antivirals," said Marie-Paule Kieny, Chair of the MPP Governance Board. "Although our work in HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis is far from completed, we are encouraged by the evidence that suggests the MPP model could be adapted to support millions of people in need of essential treatments for other diseases."
As part of its new strategic direction, recently approved by its Governance Board, the MPP is setting ambitious goals for improving health outcomes by 2022. Targets include treating 20 million people living with HIV with MPP-licensed products, delivering a pangenotypic hepatitis C treatment for US $50 per person, licensing a shortened TB all-oral regimen as well as patented medicines that are on the WHO EML or likely to be included.
"We strongly endorse the new strategy to further improve treatment options for HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis patients," said Lelio Marmora, Executive Director of Unitaid, the MPP's funder. "Since its creation, the MPP has played a valuable role in supporting international efforts to increase access to priority medicines in resource-limited countries."
The Foundation's feasibility study included a series of illustrative case studies on essential medicines in the fields of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It highlighted the expected public health value of providing generic access to patented products on the EML as well as products that the WHO EML Committee recognised as having clinical benefits and potential for future inclusion on the List. Finally, the analysis supported the MPP's involvement in promoting access to, and good stewardship of, novel antibiotics to counter antimicrobial resistance.
"WHO welcomes the announcement that the Medicines Patent Pool is expanding its mandate to include patented medicines on WHO's Model List of Essential Medicines in its patent pooling and voluntary licensing initiatives," said Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant Director-General. "It is a welcome and significant step forward toward improving access to affordable medicines and this is why we strongly advocated for the expansion of the MPP's mandate."
As a next step, the MPP will conduct a prioritization exercise to identify potential treatments for licensing, as well as explore fundraising opportunities to support its mandate expansion.
The MPP was founded by Unitaid, which continues to fund its HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis activities. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation provided funding for the feasibility study.
The Medicines Patent Pool is a United Nations-backed public health organisation working to increase access to HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis treatments in low- and middle-income countries. Through its innovative business model, the MPP partners with civil society, international organisations, industry, patient groups and other stakeholders to prioritise, forecast and license needed medicines and pool intellectual property to encourage generic manufacture and the development of new formulations. To date, the MPP has signed agreements with nine patent holders for 13 HIV antiretrovirals, two hepatitis C direct-acting antivirals and a tuberculosis treatment. www.medicinespatentpool.org