Can poor countries get the meds they need for their people only by circumventing patents? That's the debate this week at a WHO confab aimed at supplying the developing world with the drugs it needs. So far, some non-governmental organizations and poor nations have proposed "patent pools" that would combine intellectual property rights on existing meds and a prize fund to incentivize drug makers to develop remedies for neglected--read less profitable--diseases.
Don't expect Big Pharma to jump on the bandwagon, though. The proposed measures would reward drug makers for their R&D. But under the proposals, generic companies could step in as soon as products are launched, so the upfront rewards probably couldn't compensate for long-term loss of revenue.
Other WHO ideas include more support for compulsory licenses, which force drug makers to grant rights to epidemic-ridden countries that can't otherwise afford the right pharmaceuticals.
- read the report from the Financial Times
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