The role of intellectual property rights in treatment access: challenges and solutions

Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2013 Jan;8(1):70-4. doi: 10.1097/COH.0b013e32835b6e5a.


Purpose of review: The purpose of this study is to review relevant literature published from January 2011 to July 2012 that specifically addresses the impact of intellectual property protection on access to antiretroviral drugs.

Recent findings: The articles reviewed discussed the relation of intellectual property protection and access to medicines. For most authors, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) and the 10-year anniversary of the 2001 WTO Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health formed an important background for the review of the current state of play.

Summary: Intellectual property plays an important role in implementing policies to ensure HIV treatment and care programmes. From the review, three main themes emerged: the implementation of the Doha Declaration, the role of generic competition in antiretroviral treatment scale-up and innovative licensing mechanisms. The attention for the effects of intellectual property on access to HIV medicines opened the path for new initiatives for the management of patents using public health objectives as the key driver such as the UNITAID-backed Medicines Patent Pool. Some of the literature addressed the question whether more fundamental changes in the intellectual property architecture were necessary.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Drugs, Generic
  • Global Health*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Property*
  • Legislation, Drug*
  • Public Health


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • Drugs, Generic