WASHINGTON—In time for the Toronto AIDS conference, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) pushed for action on legislation he introduced to facilitate production of low-cost versions of drugs for people in the world's poorest countries.
Under the Life-Saving Medicines Export Act (S.3175), U.S.-based generic drug companies would be allowed to manufacture generic versions of patented drugs for export to countries in need without permission of the patent holder, which would receive royalties.
"Our society too often acts as if we are powerless to do anything about the fact that the high price of many life-saving medicines—medicines that we take for granted—are beyond reach for millions of the world's most vulnerable people," Leahy says. "The need for these medicines is clear and present, but the market to provide them is not. The incentives in this bill would help change that."
Leahy's group argues that the act will not take business away from patent-holders as the medicines they manufacture are not currently being purchased by the low-income families found in needy countries. Furthermore, the generic products would be marked as "not for resale" in developed nations, and therefore would not undercut existing sales to these regions.