NIH Receives 2012 "Deals of Distinction™" Award from the Licensing Executives Society

The 2012 Deals of Distinction™ Award was presented to National Institutes of Health (NIH) along with the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), who jointly own one patent family, and to Gilead Sciences (Gilead) for license agreements granted to the Medicines Patent Pool, a newly established initiative of UNITAID, an international organization established to grant licenses for the generic manufacture and purchase of drugs against HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.  The award, one of the most prestigious for technology transfer, was given to NIH at the Licensing Executives Society Annual Meeting on October 17th in Toronto, Canada.

NIH and Gilead are the first licensors to join the Pool and will pave the way for additional public and private patent holders to help improve the availability of medicines in developing countries.  The patents licensed by NIH/UIC relate to the protease inhibitor class of HIV medicines, which are used to treat drug-resistant HIV infection or patients with high viral loads, as best exemplified to date by the drug darunavir.

The Medicines Patent Pool, established by UNITAID in July 2010, is the first of its kind for HIV medicines. The primary objective of the Medicines Patent Pool is to improve access to affordable, appropriate HIV medicines in developing countries through the voluntary licensing of critical intellectual property from pharmaceutical companies. By streamlining licensing processes for the production of generic versions of patented HIV medicines for distribution and sale in the developing world, the Pool aims to serve as a one-stop shop that will speed up the pace at which newer medicines reach patients, and will help bring prices down by encouraging competition among multiple producers. It will also spur innovation, helping to facilitate the development of needed new HIV medicine formulations for children and of 'fixed-dose combinations' that combine several medicines into one pill, thereby simplifying treatment for patients.

In making the award the model partnership between the NIH, UIC, Gilead Sciences and the Medicines Pool was cited by the Licensing Executives Society as "an innovative endeavor in facilitating access to HIV treatment in developing countries" and one that "showcases the success of public-private partnerships to improve availability of medicine".