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The threat of non-communicable diseases ("NCDs") is increasingly becoming a global health crisis and are pervasive in high, middle, and low-income populations resulting in an estimated 36 million deaths per year. There is a need to assess intellectual property rights ("IPRs") that may impede generic production and availability and affordability to essential NCD medicines. Using the data sources listed below, the study design systematically eliminated NCD drugs that had no patent/exclusivity provisions on API, dosage, or administration route. The first step identified essential medicines that treat certain high disease burden NCDs. A second step examined the patent and exclusivity status of active ingredient, dosage and listed route of administration using exclusion criteria outlined in this study. We examined the patent and exclusivity status of medicines listed in the World Health Organization's ("WHO") Model List of Essential Drugs (Medicines) ("MLEM") and other WHO sources for drugs treating certain NCDs. i.e., cardiovascular and respiratory disease, cancers, and diabetes. We utilized the USA Food and Drug Administration Orange Book and the USA Patent and Trademark Office databases as references given the predominant number of medicines registered in the USA. Of the 359 MLEM medicines identified, 22% (79/359) address targeted NCDs. Of these 79, only eight required in-depth patent or exclusivity assessment. Upon further review, no NCD MLEM medicines had study patent or exclusivity protection for reviewed criteria. We find that ensuring availability and affordability of potential generic formulations of NCD MLEM medicines appears to be more complex than the presence of IPRs with API, dosage, or administration patent or exclusivity protection. Hence, more sophisticated analysis of NCD barriers to generic availability and affordability should be conducted in order to ensure equitable access to global populations for these essential medicines.


Tim K Mackey, Bryan A Liang. Patent and exclusivity status of essential medicines for non-communicable disease. PloS one. 2012;7(11):e51022

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PMID: 23226453

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