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Access to Pharmaceuticals

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Barriers for access to medicines

Access to medicines and vaccines is an essential right, but barriers remain in developing countries. Recently, researchers investigated ways to make patented drugs more accessible to populations in developing countries.

Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies

Barriers to access include high costs, resource and technology constraints, and intellectual property (IP). In addition, many promising drugs and vaccines, usually funded by private companies, do not reach market due to a lack of investment. The EU-funded 'Access to pharmaceuticals' (ATP) project aimed to address these problems and enable access to drugs. Researchers worked on improving licensing policy, analysed current product development partnerships (PDPs) and the implications of compulsory licensing. Socially responsible licensing (SRL) refers to a policy of licensing IP in a way that promotes drug development while keeping those drugs affordable in developing countries. The project has produced a guide to SRL to promote awareness and acceptance of the concept and its underlying principles. Case studies of PDPs revealed how IP management is changing to promote the development of new drugs. In the case of candidate dengue fever vaccines, they found that vaccine development is constrained by laws against recombinant DNA technology rather than IP issues. Getting these vaccines to market will, however, need large financial and logistical inputs at various stages. ATP analysed the compulsory licensing policies that are in place in several countries to promote access to generic medicines. They found that it is an effective mechanism, but requires refinement to better cater to the needs of developing countries.


Intellectual property, socially responsible licensing, product development partnership, compulsory licensing, developing countries

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