GENEVA Oct 26 The World Intellectual Property
Organization launched a consortium on Wednesday that would allow
the public and private sector to share intellectual property to
promote the development of new drugs to treat diseases such as
The "WIPO Re:Search" initiative hopes to speed up
development of medicines, vaccines and diagnostics that might
otherwise go under-researched, or might never be developed
because the potential market is not lucrative enough.
"By joining WIPO Re:Search, companies and researchers commit
to making selected intellectual property assets available under
royalty-free licences to qualified researchers anywhere in the
world for research and development on neglected tropical
diseases, malaria and tuberculosis" Francis Gurry, WIPO's
director general said.
Pharmaceutical giants including AstraZeneca ,
GlaxoSmithKline , Novartis and Pfizer
are among those who joined the consortium.
"Increasing access to our collective proprietary information
will help advance research into treatment options for these
under served diseases," said David Brennan, chief executive of
AstraZeneca and president of the International Federation of
Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA).
Research needed to discover new drugs for the treatment of
tropical diseases can cost around $2-3 billion and takes up to
12 years to develop, Brennan said.
Membership of WIPO Re:Search as a user, provider, or
supporter is open to all organisations that support the
project's guiding principles, a WIPO statement said.
These principles include the commitment that intellectual
property is licensed on a royalty-free basis for research and
development on tropical diseases in any country, and on a
royalty-free basis for sale of tropical disease medicines in or
to least developed countries, it added.
However, Medecins Sans Frontieres expressed concern over the
accessibility of the resources.
"WIPO is taking an unacceptable step in the wrong direction
by setting the bar for access too low," its statement said.
"Instead of allowing all countries where neglected diseases
are prevalent to access the products, the initiative restricts
royalty-free licences to least-developed countries only, with
access for other developing countries negotiable."
The statement added that many patients affected by neglected
tropical diseases were not in least-developed countries.
"In the Americas, for example, Chagas disease affects 21
countries, but the consortium will only provide royalty-free
licences for Haiti, where Chagas is not endemic," it said.