DNDi considers its output to be public goods. After all what use is a new drug if it does not reach those who most need it?
Our IP policy attempts to find the right mix of practicality aligned with DNDi’s beliefs and mission. We have tried to be flexible and realistic, and when the need arises, will make decisions on the possible acquisition of patents, ownership and licensing terms on a case-by-case basis.
An illustration of our IP policy at work is DNDi’s agreement with sanofi-aventis:
The company will manufacture a fixed-dose artesunate-based combination for malaria developed by DNDi, artesunate-amodiaquine, on a non-exclusive basis i.e., patent free and make it available in 2006 to governments of disease endemic countries, NGOs and international organisations at less than a dollar per adult treatment and less than 50 cents per paediatric treatment. For DNDi, the needs of neglected patients will always come first.
The world is frantically preparing for a possible catastrophe brought on by the avian flu virus H5N1. The race is on to produce a hybrid vaccine virus to immunise people against the disease Hungary has developed a vaccine, currently being tested. Meanwhile, Swiss firm Roche holds the patent for oseltamivir (marketed as Tamiflu®), first-line treatment for the disease. Trouble is it cannot produce enough of it for the countries that wish to stockpile the drug.
After initial reluctance to let other companies produce the drug, Roche has recently given in to calls for a cheaper version to be manufactured by eight generic firms in India, Thailand, Taiwan, China etc.
Putting patients before patents, many countries are exercising their right to compulsory licensing so that they, too, can be ready with drugs for their people if and when the flu strikes.