Novel Approaches to IP Collaborations: Advancing Cures for Neglected Diseases

Aug 16, 2009 | Updated May 25, 2011

While this week's news is being dominated by Supreme Court nomination hearings, there's also good news this week for intellectual property and global health.

The Group of 8 countries just issued a global public health report encouraging implementation of the World Health Organization's strategy on intellectual property rights and innovations to help expedite the development of life-saving drugs for the world's poor. This follows on Glaxo Smith Kline's recent proposal to develop "patent pools" where pharmaceutical companies shared intellectual property (patents and compounds, for example) that could help advance drug development for neglected diseases.

As the first non-profit pharmaceutical company and a product development partnership (PDP), OneWorld Health welcomes these initiatives, as it will take a variety of approaches to prevent the millions of needless deaths caused by neglected diseases each year.

For the past ten years, OneWorld Health has been forging partnerships with private sector pharmaceutical companies, NGOs and government entities to advance our mission of developing safe, effective and affordable new medicines for some of the world's deadliest neglected diseases like malaria, visceral leishmaniasis and diarrheal disease.

This week, we're proud to announce our newest pharma partnership with Novartis - a collaboration that will help us discover and develop a novel therapy for secretory diarrhea, a neglected disease that kills more than 1.6 million children each year. By leveraging Novartis' expertise on Cystic Fibrosis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome to discover and develop new compound series aimed at improving the treatment of diarrheal diseases, our goal is to accelerate the drug development process for life-threatening childhood diarrhea.

We believe in strong intellectual property rights and, at the same time, we are encouraged by any and all new initiatives to leverage intellectual property to address global public health challenges. We are hopeful that the WHO and Glaxo Smith Kline efforts will help speed the development of life-saving drugs for neglected diseases, and we encourage others in the
private, public and NGO sectors to further advocate for and experiment with expanding the scientific resource pool so greatly needed to combat neglected diseases.

Just as there is no single treatment to combat malaria -- a combination of medicine, bed nets and better water irrigation all play a vital role -- there must also be multiple approaches to leveraging intellectual property to advance the development of life-saving drugs to combat neglected diseases.

This week's news developments -- the WHO and the Group of Eight calling for open access to intellectual property, a for-profit pharmaceutical company proposing a patent pool to share intellectual property and two pharmaceutical giants working with a non-profit pharmaceutical company to create a development pipeline for diarrheal disease -- would have been
unheard of ten years ago.

While we still have a long way to go, the global health community is making progress on shifting from aspiration to action.