, GENEVA, Dec 15 – UNITAID, an international drug purchase facility, decided on Monday to create a "patent pool" to help facilitate the production of generic AIDS medications for low- and middle-income countries.
Scheduled to begin operating in mid-2010, the patent pool is expected to make more and newer medicines available, and generate savings of over one billion dollars a year, said UNITAID.
"This is an historic day," said former French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, chairman of UNITAID\’s Executive Board.
"UNITAID has now put in place a mechanism that will make medical advances work for the poor, while compensating companies for sharing their technology."
The patent pool will create a common space for patent holders to license their technology in exchange for royalties.
This will spur competition between manufacturers of generics, and will also make it easier to produce fixed-dose combinations (FDCs) of medicines from different companies.
Combinations of medications have often proven to be more effective in fighting HIV, and the FDCs are easier to administer to patients, in particular to children.
UNITAID was established to increase access for poor people to treatments for AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Around 70 percent of UNITAID\’s financial base comes from a tax on airline tickets in eight of the organisation\’s 29 members countries, including France and South Korea.