In a press release published on its website today, GSK has announced a series of measures that, if implemented, could help to improve access to medicines in developing countries. According to GSK, it is ‘evolving its graduated approach to filing and enforcing patents so that IP protection reflects a country’s economic maturity.’
Essentially, under this graduated approach, GSK will not apply for patents on medicines in Least Developed Countries and Low Income Countries. For Lower Middle Income Countries, GSK will still apply for patents on drugs but it will seek to offer licences to allow supplies of generic versions of its drug for 10 years. However, GSK made it clear that it will continue to seek full patent protection in High Income Countries, Upper Middle Income Countries, and G20 countries.
According to GSK, it ‘recognises that improving access around the world requires a flexible and multi-faceted approach to intellectual property (IP) protection.’ And while it believes that ‘IP stimulates and underpins continued investment in research and development,’ GSK also ‘believes being flexible with its IP can help address pressing health challenges in developing countries.’ In my view, GSK’s plan is a right step in the right direction.
The press release can be found here.