Pooling patents for the global common good
Access to medicines patents can be a question of life and death in the developing world. Global controversies have centred on how to prevent the “tragedy of the anti-commons,” in which use of important drugs is off-limits due to the intellectual property rights, while also preserving incentives to innovate. The Medicines Patent Pool is an initiative that goes beyond the controversy, clearing away medicines patent barriers to increase access to new, affordable HIV treatment in developing countries.
Ellen ‘t Hoen
Ellen ’t Hoen is an independent medicines law and policy consultant. She has particular expertise in the area of access to medicines and intellectual property. Her most recent achievement is the establishment of the Medicines Patent Pool to accelerate the availability of low cost HIV treatments in developing countries through patent licensing.
In 1981 she co-founded DES Action the Netherlands and remained its coordinator until 1990. In 1990 she joined Health Action International to head the policy and campaigns unit. From 1996 until 1999 she was the international coordinator of the independent medicines journal La Revue Prescrire/Prescrire International and the International Society of Drug Bulletins (ISDB).
From 1999 until 2009 she was the Director of Policy and Advocacy at Médecins sans Frontières’ (MSF) Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines.
In 2009 she became the Senior Adviser for Intellectual Property and Medicines Patent Pool at WHO/UNITAID, where she set up the Medicines Patent Pool which aims at brokering and making available patent licenses to antiretroviral medicines with the purpose of increasing access to low-cost and better adapted ARVs, for example pediatric formulations or fixed dose formulations for use in low and middle income countries. She was the executive-director of the Medicines Patent Pool until June 2012.
She won several awards for her work on the effects of exposure to the drug (DES) in the 1980s and 1990s, including the prestigious Harriet Freezerring award in 1989.
In 2005, 2006 and 2010 she was listed as one of the 50 most influential people in intellectual property in the world by the journal Managing Intellectual Property.
She is a research fellow at the IS HIV/AIDS Academy of the University of Amsterdam and authored the book “The Global Politics of Pharmaceutical Monopoly Power. Drug patents, access, innovation and the application of the WTO Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.” which was published in January 2009 and is available for free download here: http://www.msfaccess.org/content/global-politics-pharmaceutical-monopoly-power
She is a member of the World Health Organization’s Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Policies and Management and a member of the advisory board of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM).
Her favourite TED Talk: