Thank you for joining our call to action urging Johnson & Johnson to license the company’s patents on three lifesaving HIV/AIDS drugs to the Medicines Patent Pool, a mechanism designed to lower prices of HIV medicines and increase access to them for people in the developing world.
Despite continuing to earn record profits and a company credo that calls for putting patients first, on December 19, Johnson & Johnson continued to turn its back on people living with HIV/AIDS in many developing countries by telling the Pool it refused to license its patents on the HIV drugs rilpivirine, darunavir, and etravirine.
Over the past two years, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been urging Johnson & Johnson, and other companies holding HIV drug patents, to take this critical step of joining the Pool. The Pool would license patents on HIV drugs to other manufacturers and the resulting competition would dramatically reduce prices, making them much more affordable in the developing world and allow new combination medicines.
In refusing to join the Medicines Patent Pool, Johnson & Johnson says there is no urgency for making these drugs widely available in developing countries. That’s simply not true. MSF now provides treatment to more than 180,000 people living with HIV worldwide, and is beginning to witness the inevitable, natural phenomenon of treatment failure, whereby people develop resistance to the drugs they are taking and need to graduate to newer medicines.
Furthermore, rilpivirine, darunavir, and etravirine were identified among the key drug formulations needed for HIV treatment by the Medicines Patent Pool, UNITAID and the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS Department.
The fight for our patients does not end here with this announcement from Johnson & Johnson. MSF will continue to press Johnson & Johnson and other companies holding patents on essential HIV/AIDS medicines to join the Medicines Patent Pool.
Ultimately, it is about breaking the double standard of access to essential medicines for patients living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries. For the sake of patients who are resistant to today’s treatment as well as patients of tomorrow who are still waiting for access to improved drugs, MSF will continue to call for real access to affordable medicines.