For World AIDS Day 2013, Shareholders Seek "Shared Responsibility" in Defeating HIV/AIDS

Date: 
Nov 27th 2013

Patent Sharing for Key Medications Urged to Strengthen Results for an AIDS-Free Generation

NEW YORK, NY – WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2013–In anticipation of World Aids Day, Sunday, December 1st, 2013, members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) renew their call for companies that make medicines that treat HIV/AIDS to join the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) as a strategy to increase access to life-saving medicines and accelerate progress towards an AIDS-free generation.

In the 25 years since the designation of World AIDS Day, awareness about HIV and AIDS has increased, more is known about the condition, advances have been made in prevention, treatment and care, and laws have been enacted to protect people living with the virus. However, HIV/AIDS continues to be one of the most intractable pandemics in history with an estimated 34 million people around the globe infected with HIV and between 1.5 to 1.9 million people still dying of AIDS every year.

This year’s World AIDs Day theme, Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation is an urgent call to action for governments, NGOs and the private sector to collaborate and develop more effective strategies that will drastically reduce new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths by promoting greater access to treatment.

ICCR members and investors in global pharmaceutical companies have been heeding that call since 1999 by encouraging the companies to continue research and to develop new ways to make HIV medicines more available and affordable in the emerging and frontier markets hardest hit by HIV/AIDS.

In recent years, shareholders have urged the pharma companies in their portfolios to share the patents for their HIV/AIDS medications with generics manufacturers through the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), an organization formed expressly for the purpose of increasing the accessibility and affordability of these drugs for those who need them most.

ICCR has been a vocal supporter of the MPP since its founding in 2010. In 2011, in response to investor encouragement, Gilead Sciences became the first company to join the MPP, sharing licenses with generics manufacturers for its vital HIV and Hepatitis B drugs. After ongoing encouragement from ICCR shareholders, ViiV (a joint venture of Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Shionogi) contributed a voluntary license for pediatric formulations for one of its AIDS medicines this past February. In August, Roche and the Medicines Patent Pool announced an agreement to increase access and reduce the cost of a medicine that treats a viral infection that can lead to blindness in people with HIV/AIDS.

Said Donna Meyer of Mercy Investment Services, “Our continuing work on the issue of access to treatment includes the belief in the MPP as an important vehicle to facilitate the manufacture and distribution of affordable generics. This vehicle is made stronger through increased participation and collaboration and, for this reason we are commemorating World AIDS Day by renewing our call for companies to join the Pool.”

To help expedite participation in the MPP, ICCR has hosted industry roundtables convening leading drug companies, world health agencies and NGOs in the hopes of providing a forum where all stakeholders could voice any concerns and questions. Greg Perry, Executive Director of the Medicines Patent Pool said, "The MPP, which offers an innovative  public health driven business model  for patent sharing, works in partnership with IP holders and other stakeholders to increase access  to innovative therapies for people living with HIV. We have made significant progress with key companies this year and hope to continue this progress into 2014. We thank the ICCR for their continued support of the MPP and their recognition of the importance of  public health orientated voluntary licenses. By working together we can all contribute to improving people's lives."

Said Julie Tanner of Christian Brothers Investment Services, “The theme for World AIDS Day this year is quite apt as ICCR members strongly support the concept of ‘shared responsibility’  between the private and public sectors to find appropriate solutions to global health issues. In our work to strengthen results we will continue to dialogue with companies, such as AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck, to encourage them to share their latest, often more effective formulations with the MPP in the hopes of one day celebrating an AIDS-free generation.”

Said Cathy Rowan of CHE Trinity Health and the Maryknoll Sisters, “As investors who recognize access to health as a fundamental human right, ICCR members have long encouraged the global pharmaceutical companies they hold to respect these rights by ensuring that appropriate medicines are accessible and affordable to all the world’s citizens who need them. In addition to joining the MPP, we call on companies involved in the fight against AIDS to create effective human rights frameworks that include expanding access to medicine, which in turn can more adequately protect shareholder value.”

For more information on World AIDS Day visit the following websites:

Mercy Investment Services: http://mercyinvestmentservices.org/

UN AIDS: http://bit.ly/Ifnxbd

World Health Organization: http://bit.ly/17VcDO8

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Contact: Susana McDermott, Director of Communications, ICCR
smcdermott@iccr.org
212-870-2938

About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)

Currently celebrating its 43rd year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of active shareholders who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for change. Its 300 member organizations with over $100 billion in AUM have an enduring record of corporate engagement that has demonstrated influence on policies promoting justice and sustainability in the world. www.iccr.org