Increasing access to patented medicines with the pharmaceutical sector

A patent protects medical products but may limit their access in low-resource settings. Medicines Patent Pool negotiates voluntary licenses with patent holders, including Swiss companies, that it grants to generic manufacturers to reduce prices. SDC support will enable people in low- and middle-income countries to access quality-assured, appropriate, affordable, safe, and effective medical products to fight non-communicable diseases, COVID-19, and antimicrobial resistance.

Paese/Regione Tema Periodo Budget
Rafforzamento dei sistemi sanitari
Malattie infettive
01.01.2023 - 31.12.2025
CHF  1’500’000

A patent provides incentives that help promote the discovery and development of new medicines for patients and fosters a competitive market for medical products. It protects owners of medical products' intellectual property against infringement. It prevents others from producing, selling, or using the patented item for a specific time. Patents protect most life-saving and essential medicines.

Hence, patents may act as barriers to global health and equitable access to medical products and technologies in low-and middle-income countries because they can limit their availability and affordability. The sharing and disclosure of patents' content enable the dissemination of information and increase the public stock of knowledge. Patent holders – mostly private companies – can share this knowledge voluntarily.

The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) is the only voluntary licensing and patent pooling mechanism in the public health area. It pursues an innovative, voluntary approach to improve access to essential, patented medicines that build on collaboration with patent holders. The model is based on public health-oriented voluntary licenses that the patent holder grants to MPP, which in turn, MPP licenses out to generic manufacturers several years before patent expiry. In return, the patent holder may receive a fair royalty fee. In addition, licenses enable low- and middle-income countriesfocused innovation.

SDC supports MPP since 2019. MPP is a Geneva-based public-private partnership; with its model, it is the worldleading organization promoting better access to and facilitating the development of medical products in line with Swiss priorities while protecting intellectual property rights. MPP reflects Swiss values by seeking collaborative solutions with the private sector (pharmaceutical industry) in specific treatment areas and ensuring medical products' quality and broader availability. MPP complements the mandate of other global health actors based in Geneva and is, therefore, a plus for the "Genève Internationale".

Obiettivi Increase access to quality-assured, safe, efficacious and affordable patented essential medicines and technologies for people in low- and middle-income countries.
Gruppi target

Primary beneficiaries are people in low- and middle-income countries who are in need of patented, life-saving medicines and other health technologies which are either not available in their national health system or are only available in the private market at relatively high out-of-pocket costs. Secondary beneficiaries are countries and funders who save money when purchasing MPP-licensed medicines.

Tertiary beneficiaries are patent holders and generic manufacturers who benefit from royalty fees and from selling generic versions in low- and middleincome countries, respectively.

Effetti a medio termine

Outcome 1)    Intellectual property for essential medicines and technologies to fight non-communicable diseases, COVID-19, and antimicrobial resistance is licensed on public-health terms.

Outcome 2)    New quality-assured generic versions of essential medicines and technologies to fight non-communicable diseases, COVID19, and antimicrobial resistance enter the market in low-and middle-income countries.

Outcome 3)    Voluntary licensing is increasingly acknowledged as an effective tool for expanding access to medicines and health technologies in low- and middle income countries.


Risultati principali attesi:  

Output 1)    Engagement with patent holders of prioritised products progresses towards the negotiation and conclusion of licences (at least 3 licences).

Output 2)    Sub-licenses are signed with generic companies.

Output 3)    The development of quality-assured products maximizes availability, affordability and uptake.

Output 4)    Voluntary licensing is promoted through strategic partnerships and information sharing.

Risultati fasi precedenti:  

MPP has been recognized as the model for successful public health-oriented licensing and patent pooling by significantly increasing access to medicines. Major achievements so far include:

1)    MPP obtained licenses on 3 WHO-recommended antivirals (COVID-19) and the first license agreement for a cancer treatment (with Novartis).

2)    MPP granted sublicenses to 49 manufacturers across all WHO regions (34 for the first time).

3)    MPP established a new prioritization framework to assess medicines in other disease areas on the WHO Essential Medicines List or had strong potential for future inclusion on that list.

4)    MPP’s governance mechanism has integrated a dedicated team of highly regarded, independent expert advisors.

5)    MPP decreased the time needed for almost every aspect of the licensing process.

Direzione/Ufficio responsabile DSC
Partner del progetto Partner contrattuale
Organizzazione svizzera senza scopo di lucro
  • Altra organizzazione svizzera non profit

Altri partner
Medicines Patent Pool, a Swiss-based foundation. 
Coordinamento con altri progetti e attori

World Health Organization



The Global Fund

Budget Fase in corso Budget Svizzera CHF    1’500’000 Budget svizzero attualmente già speso CHF    360’000
Fasi del progetto Fase 2 01.01.2023 - 31.12.2025   (Fase in corso) Fase 1 01.11.2018 - 31.12.2022   (Completed)