Tahir Amin, DipLP, co-founder and director of intellectual property of Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge, discusses how his organization has helped bring down drug costs.
How has your work affected access to and the cost of HIV therapies?
I think we’ve seen the cost come down significantly, and a lot of that is because of the advocacy, the patient community, and global health organizations putting this issue on the agenda.
I do believe the newer generations of drugs are still farther out of reach, particularly for middle-income countries. For example, a number of least-developing countries are getting included in access programs or licenses, so those countries are getting some of the benefits of the work that’s being done; however, a number of middle-income countries are being left out since they’re emerging markets.
So, those countries are facing a big crisis in terms of accessing these drugs at affordable prices. I think that’s where a lot of the work has to be concentrated now, because there’s been a tradeoff where pharmaceutical companies have said, “Well, we’ll give to the least-developing countries but keep the bigger markets to ourselves.” So, the prices are still around $5000 to $7000, and there’s more poor people living in middle-income countries than almost anywhere else. That’s where the crisis really lies and if we don’t solve that problem than we’re going to be facing another HIV crisis, as we did in the early days.