You gotta love Big Business. Tax breaks, bail outs, billions in profits.
Oh, yeah, that last part may not be included in the quarterly report to shareholders, but it’s true.
It seems that monster pharmaceutical company, Johnson & Johnson, is refusing to participate in the Medicines Patent Pool, which is designed to lower the prices of HIV medicines and increase access to them for people in the developing world.
Profits. It’s all about profits.
From Doctor’s Without Borders:
“Johnson & Johnson, which holds patents on three key new HIV drugs desperately needed throughout the developing world, has so far refused to license 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.”
Johnson & Johnson holds the patents on the HIV medicines rilpivirine, darunavir, and etravirine. Rilpivirine is a promising antiretroviral, under development for use in first-line treatment regimens, while darunavir and etravirine are important for patients who have developed resistance to their existing treatment.
And, even though Johnson & Johnson offers “reduced access pricing,” the cost of these drugs is out of reach of many in the world’s least-developed countries–many of those in sub-Saharan Africa. The cost of darunavir and etravirine alone runs more than $2,000 a year in countries where $2000 is what one might earn in a lifetime. Developing countries pay even higher prices.
Last December, the National Institutes of Health, which holds the intellectual property rights for a manufacturing process for darunavir, put its patent for the AIDS drug in the patent pool. Johnson & Johnson holds the drug’s remaining patents, and is effectively blocking other companies from manufacturing and making darunavir available at prices affordable for patients in the developing world.
Blocking the manufacturing of a drug that could save some people’s lives. For profit.