Pharmacia To Test Pilot Program Granting Non-Exclusive Licenses to Generic Drug Makers To Produce Delavirdine
Drug maker Pharmacia and the International Dispensary Association will collaborate on an "out-licensing" program to provide an antiretroviral drug to developing nations, the Wall Street Journal reports (Hensley, Wall Street Journal, 1/24). Under the agreement, Pharmacia will grant non-exclusive licenses for its antiretroviral drug delavirdine, which is sold under the brand name Rescriptor, to generic drug makers that agree to manufacture and supply the drug to countries with a per capita gross national income of less than $1,200 or an HIV prevalence rate over 1%. Pharmacia will transfer its manufacturing technology to the IDA, which will in turn select generic drug companies that meet its manufacturing standards. The not-for-profit pilot program is based on a plan set forth by representatives from Pharmacia, IDA and the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government in this month's issue of the Lancet (Pharmacia release, 1/24). Representatives hope that the program will expand access to essential medicines while "protecting the economic interests of brand-name drug makers in their profitable home markets," a concern that has led patented drug makers to resist other efforts at voluntary and compulsory licensing programs, according to the Journal. The program would prohibit generic drug makers from selling against the patent holder and would require that generic medications take a different shape and color from the original pill, enabling customs officials to stop illegal shipments of drugs back to the markets of the United States and other developed countries. Pfizer, in a written statement, offered its support of Pharmacia's plan, a crucial step because Pfizer is expected to acquire Pharmacia later this year. Amir Attaran, Harvard lecturer and co-author of the Lancet article, hopes that the program will "defus[e]" the arguments over patents and shift the world's focus to the "shortage of funding for the humanitarian efforts and health care development needed to save the ill," according to the Journal. A spokesperson for GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical company that produces several antiretroviral drugs, said that it "doesn't count out generics companies," but it declined to comment on the Pharmacia program (Wall Street Journal, 1/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.