Investors Praise Bristol-Myers Squibb for Boosting Access to Life-Saving Drugs Via Medicines Patent Pool

Dec 12th 2013

Licensing agreement reached for generic production of adult and pediatric Atazanavir shows leadership and innovation in delivering HIV/AIDS medicines where they are most needed.

New York, NY, Thursday, December 12th, 2013 – Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) today applaud Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) for successfully negotiating an agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) for its drug Atazanavir (ATV).

ICCR members are shareholders who have been encouraging global pharmaceutical companies to share their patents for HIV/AIDS medications through the Pool as a way to increase their accessibility and affordability for the world’s most vulnerable populations. ATV is one of two protease inhibitors recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as part of preferred second-line treatment. 

The new agreement will allow for the manufacture of the drug by generics manufacturers anywhere in the world and its sale in 110 countries which is expected to cover 88.4% of people living with HIV in middle- and low-income countries.

“This agreement will allow manufacturers world-wide to produce more affordable versions of ATV, and to combine ATV with other medicines to make treatment easier and more accessible in developing countries," said Greg Perry, Executive Director of the MPP.  "WHO-recommended second-line treatments such as ATV are becoming increasingly important, with over 1 million people projected to be on them by 2016 and many more needing access to them. All of our partners are essential to ensuring the Medicines Patent Pool concludes agreements that increase access to important HIV medicines, and we are grateful in particular for the support of investors and members of ICCR."

ICCR has been a vocal supporter of the MPP since its founding in 2010. 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. And after ongoing encouragement from ICCR shareholders, ViiV (a joint venture of Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Shionogi) and Roche also joined the pool. The MPP has also announced that it is in formal negotiations with Abbvie for licenses for its pediatric formulations.

“We view the addition of BMS as a member of the pool as a possible tipping point for the pharmaceutical sector,” said Pat Zerega of Mercy Investment Services. “More and more companies are acknowledging their social responsibility to respond aggressively to HIV/AIDS and are recognizing the importance of their participation in the MPP. There is still much to be done before we reach the goal of Getting to Zero, the theme of World Aids Day, but BMS has shown great leadership today, and as their shareholders, we commend them.”

Anita Green of Wespath Investment Management said, We appreciate Bristol-Myers' willingness to meet with shareholders to discuss matters of common interest. We view the agreement regarding Atazanavir as a positive step that can extend Bristol-Myers products into new markets and help save lives.”

Said Julie Tanner of Christian Brothers Investment Services, “In addition to the important steps taken by BMS, ICCR members praise AbbVie for entering into formal negotiations with the MPP for pediatrics. Only through partnerships with stakeholders and patent holding companies will the Pool achieve success. We strongly encourage those companies who have yet to engage with MPP to meet their responsibility to respect human rights, particularly, the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

Contact: Susana McDermott, Director of Communications, ICCR

[email protected]


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.