Johnson & Johnson is expected to announce Monday, December 19, whether it intends to license its 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.
Over the past two years, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been urging Johnson & Johnson to take this critical step.
Johnson & Johnson has so far refused to join discussions on licensing these patents to the Medicines Patent Pool. The Pool has been set up to increase access to more affordable versions of HIV drugs, including fixed-dose combinations that include multiple medicines in one pill, and to develop much-needed pediatric HIV drugs.
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. However, since the Pool is voluntary it will only work if patent holders like Johnson & Johnson choose to participate.