by Krista L. Cox –
Monopolies over many life-saving drugs have led to high prices that remain out of reach for patients in the developing world, leading to a crisis of access over these essential medicines. High intellectual property barriers harm not only access to medicines, but can also impact future innovation. In order to address this problem, a proposal for a “patent pool” emerged that would rely on voluntary licenses by patent holders to enable the production of more affordable generic medicines. This article briefly describes the history of patent pools before focusing specifically on the UNITAID-supported Medicines Patent Pool. It analyzes the specific licenses of the Medicines Patent Pool, noting both the positive aspects and areas where future licenses could be improved. In addition to identifying areas for improvement, this article explores the mechanisms, including those that de-link innovation from monopoly pricing, that can be used to achieve these goals and encourage greater participation in the Medicines Patent Pool.