A new online tool could help government procurement agencies better understand the global patent status of medicines, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) announced in September.
WIPO is hosting the database, known as Pat-INFORMED, and providing the resources to ensure its continued development, while IFPMA is working with 20 biopharma companies that have backed the initiative to help ensure a coordinated approach and accurate information on the patents.
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said: “The patent system is an enormous source of economic intelligence. We are exploiting it in this instance in order to facilitate the procurement of medicines. We can do so only thanks to an enormous effort of the research-based pharmaceutical industry.”
Corey Salsberg, VP, global head of IP Affairs at Novartis, explained to Focus
that the database is modeled on the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Orange Book, and that this public-private partnership that created the database will help procurement agencies obtain pharmaceuticals more quickly and increase access.
The platform, which currently features information on almost 200 medicines, also allows countries’ procurement agencies to make direct inquiries to companies.
Thomas Cueni, IFPMA Director General, added: “This process in making patents more transparent is a first step. We all know there is a lot of complexity surrounding the patent system, which is why it is often misunderstood. This has proved a heavy lift for everyone involved. Although the information is publicly available, putting it together in a unique format and making sure it follows the Orange Book standards has been a considerable task.”
Procurement agencies and the public can search the database by entering a medicine’s International Non-Proprietary Name (INN) to obtain relevant information about its patent status in a particular country.
So far, the database has received positive feedback from the Gates Foundation, WHO, the Medicines Patent Pool, even some well-known critics of industry, Salsberg added.
Article updated with comment from Salsberg