Challenges for Intellectual Property Management of HIV Vaccine-Related Research and Development: Part 1, The Global Context

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  • The HIV/AIDS pandemic is one of the defining issues of the 21st century. AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa and the fourth-leading cause of death globally. UNAIDS estimated that 33.2 million people were living with HIV in 2007. More than twenty million people have already died from AIDS and sixty-five million will face death over the next twenty years. The majority of these live in the developing world among the world’s poor, powerless and marginalized. Considerable research is being conducted and better coordinated at the global level now, with the hope that one or more vaccine candidates will emerge in the next decade. Of great concern to those in the research and funding enterprise is ensuring global access to vaccines and related products once they are developed. That access is particularly important in the developing world where AIDS continues to kill and infect millions of men, women and children. Balancing the need to provide incentives for R&D of HIV vaccines with the need for affordable global access to those vaccines is one of the most pressing challenges in international public health. A critical factor in this balancing act is the management of intellectual property rights (IPRs). Here we discuss potential roadblocks to the coordinated international efforts for HIV vaccine development and, in particular, potential roadblocks caused by IPRs in the process of vaccine development and potential roadblocks caused by IPRs to global access to vaccines, once developed. In our second, companion paper, we discuss the same issues from a Canadian perspective. This paper is divided into four sections. Part one lays out the background issues for managing and coordinating international vaccine research. It covers some differences between vaccine and pharmaceutical R&D, outlines HIV vaccine R&D to date and lays out the intellectual property (IP) issues most relevant to HIV vaccine R&D. Part two outlines IP management techniques that can be used to avoid blockage to research tools or IP blocks to on-going research projects. Part three outlines IP management strategies that can be used to ensure global access to the outcomes of funded research projects. We conclude with a summary of strategies available to governments (through funding agencies or otherwise) to encourage HIV vaccine research and to ensure global access to the products and processes produced by that research.

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  • Type of Item
    Research Material
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    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 International
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Knowles L, Bubela T (2008) Challenges for Intellectual Property Management of HIV Vaccine-Related Research and Development: Part 1, The Global Context. Health Law Journal 16: 55-96. [PMID: 19536978]