Geneva – The Board of the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) has decided to expand its mandate into the licensing of technology with an initial focus on COVID-19 vaccines and pandemic preparedness. In recognition of the increasing need for the licensing of know-how in addition to patents, MPP will be able to offer its expertise to pharmaceutical companies that understand the importance of voluntary public health licensing as a solution. It will also allow MPP to widen the scope of its support to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).

During the recent Global Health Summit in Rome (21 May), French President Emmanuel Macron called for the ACT-A mandate to be expanded to include the production of vaccines, treatments, and diagnostic tests. During the meeting, the President said, “It is about accelerating production partnerships, technology transfers and know-how on all continents. For this, it is necessary to involve all stakeholders. GAVI and CEPI will need the expertise of the WHO, the resources of the World Bank, and above all the know-how in terms of technology transfers from the Medicines Patent Pool and Unitaid.”

Dr Mariângela Simão, Assistant Director-General Access to Medicines and Health Products at the World Health Organization, said, “In the fight against the pandemic, it is critical that low- and middle-income countries expand their capacity to produce COVID-19 vaccines. But we also need to look ahead to the longer term and give LMICs the capacity to produce further vaccines as they are needed as well as new treatments. If the pandemic has taught us anything is that we cannot afford to be in this situation ever again – we must now work together and achieve these equitable access solutions.”

Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, Chair of the MPP Governance Board, said, “Since the start of the pandemic, the MPP Board recognised the important role that MPP can play to increase access to life-saving products for those who need them most. With the expansion of MPP’s mandate into licensing of technology and the strong support from France, Japan, the UK and Norway, MPP is ready and able to build on our knowledge and experience to ensure access and increase production of vaccines and treatments in LMICs.”

Dr Philippe Duneton, Executive Director, Unitaid, said, “When Unitaid established MPP in 2010, many did not believe voluntary licensing could be done or that originator companies would come to the table, but they did. Today in HIV, millions of people in LMICs are taking high-quality, state of the art treatments at prices that were just unimaginable at the time. Unitaid fully trusts that in building on the MPP licensing model for technology transfer, we can again take the ‘impossible’ and make it a reality in public health.”

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