Campus & Community

KSG researcher helps craft agreement to provide HIV drugs to developing countries

2 min read

A proposal co-written by a research fellow at the Kennedy School of Government establishes the framework for the sale of low-cost generic HIV drugs in developing nations. The proposal is outlined in an article published in the Jan. 25 edition of The Lancet, and is co-authored by Amir Attaran, research fellow at the Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy; Henk den Besten, director of the International Dispensary Association (IDA); and Michael A. Friedman, vice president of Pharmacia Corp.

The article advocates a plan for pharmaceutical companies and other patent holders to award out-licenses to generic manufacturers to produce and distribute low-cost medicines in poor countries while protecting their patents in other nations.

The breakthrough agreement has paved the way for an announcement by Pharmacia Corp. at the World Economic Forum, held Jan. 23-28 in Davos, Switzerland, that the company will launch a pilot program to out-license production and distribution of the HIV drug delavirdine to IDA in developing countries worldwide. Millions of people, including those in sub-Saharan Africa, where AIDS is rampant, will have increased access to delavirdine and other medicines. Neither IDA nor Pharmacia will profit from this arrangement.

“Out-licensing reflects a new approach – allowing for the distribution of highly sought-after anti-HIV medications in the poorest parts of the world, while reconciling that with patent rights in the richer countries,” said Attaran.

Trained as both a biologist and lawyer, Attaran’s main areas of work concern international development, public health, and law. He has advised the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, and Doctors Without Borders.