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Intellectual Property Issues Affecting Research and Development of HIV Vaccines

Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:02 GMT

Author: Robert Reinhard
Position: HIV Vaccine Advocate- Community Advisiry Board
Institution: Community Advisory Board (CAB) - San Francisco Vaccine Trials Unit
Submitted Date: December 03, 2006
Published Date: December 4, 2006
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

I also found the original articles and followon correspondence regarding intellectual property, access to ART and terminology very helpful. However, in the case of the needed spurs to research and development for HIV vaccines a much different response and vocabulary is required compared to that for drugs. The thicket of patents, manufacturing know how, trade secret data and other property to invent and distribute these biologics is more complex than it is for comparatively small molecule therapeutics. It is also unlikely these vaccines could be prepared in biosimilar or "generic" form subject to licensing or approval pressures.

The AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) has prepared a useful discussion of the differences and incentives necessary for vaccine R and D (2005) 'Intellectual Property at the Crossroads', which is a good start to motivate this field, where early stage and basic science questions are still unanswered.

The best hope to overcome these obstacles is to increase opportunities for knowledge sharing that will respect the reward needs of all players - private company, academic, government, nonprofit and of course the affected and at risk population which could be any one of us.


Stallman R (2006) Intellectual property and access to ART: Unwise choice of terminology. PLoS Med 3(11): e509. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030509

Castro A, Westerhaus M (2006) Intellectual property and access to ART: Authors' reply. PLoS Med 3(11): e510. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030510

Westerhaus M, Castro A (2006) How do intellectual property law and international trade agreements affect access to antiretroviral therapy? PLoS Med 3: e332??doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030332 doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030332.

Competing interests declared: I do not have competing interests but I want to disclose that I was one of the principal authors of the AVAC article cited in my letter.