From HIV to NCDs: Will Patent Fights Again Spur Better Treatment Access?

PLOS Medicine, Vol. 10, No. 7, July 2013

4 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2013

Date Written: July 23, 2013


A decade ago, a crisis over access to HIV/AIDS treatment was the catalysis for elevating that disease and the other infectious diseases disproportionately affecting the world’s poor as a foreign policy issue, mobilizing billions in global health aid. Now, a new controversy over patented medicines for cancer, diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) is emerging, particularly in middle-income countries. The intergovernmental institutions designated to address trade and global health concerns are proving unable to resolve this conflict. Alternatives to intellectual property, such as prizes or R&D treaties, have not attracted significant donor and multilateral support. Addressing the emerging NCD treatment-access crisis will require another transformation in global health, this time focusing on low-cost interventions and patient-centered, rather than country-focused, strategies.

Keywords: access to medicines, treatment access, TRIPS, WTO, patent, global health, compulsory licensing, compulsory licenses, pharmaceuticals, HIV, NCDs, noncommunicable diseases, cancer, diabetes, India

JEL Classification: O34, I18

Suggested Citation

Bollyky, Thomas J., From HIV to NCDs: Will Patent Fights Again Spur Better Treatment Access? (July 23, 2013). PLOS Medicine, Vol. 10, No. 7, July 2013, Available at SSRN:

Thomas J. Bollyky (Contact Author)

Council on Foreign Relations ( email )

1777 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
United States

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