TAG overview

Open innovation sharing

We consider it our duty and responsibility to share core technological advances to improve global access to healthcare. However, this level of transparency requires a solid, transparent and reliable legal framework that protects the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies and enforces patents in order to provide the opportunity to balance the initial investment in research and development.

Our approach to sharing and protecting intellectual property

The approach that we and other pharmaceutical companies take to our intellectual property impacts access to healthcare. We often refrain from filing or enforcing patents in low- and middle-income countries. In markets where we do register product patents, we are transparent and committed to sharing data to the greatest possible extent and to improving public access to clinical study data. We report on the patent status of our products via a publicly accessible database. Furthermore, we support voluntary licensing agreements of all kinds, including non-exclusive voluntary licenses, legally binding non-assertion covenants and clauses that aim to widen access to health. Moreover, we support the concept of , but believe that these should be structured in such a way that they improve access to medicines, prevent anti-competitive behavior and overcome geographic limitations. We consider joining patent pools when they are relevant to our portfolio and meet all our efficacy, quality and safety requirements.

The responsible treatment of intellectual property does not pose a barrier to health, but rather guarantees safety and high quality for patients worldwide. Nearly all medicines that address the highest burden of disease in low- and middle-income countries are not protected by patents. Studies found that between 90% and 95% of the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines are off-patent. We provide 46 and products, 27 of which are on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines and 29 of which are considered to be .

We provide access to patent information through our Access to Health initiatives and partnerships. In some cases, we even give access to parts of our chemical compound libraries. This is true for open innovation research projects and collaborative research programs that develop novel R&D platforms in search of new active substances.

How we organize access to and control of our intellectual property

Our Open Innovation initiative is a collaborative and cross-functional effort led by our Access to Health and Patents Healthcare units. It aims to mitigate affordability issues by sharing our intellectual property, thus accelerating early discovery in diseases with high unmet needs where we do not have expertise. We hope to foster the discovery of new generations of health solutions that will tackle the needs of the most vulnerable populations, with a primary focus on (NTDs).

Our Open Innovation Committee provides technical expertise, strategic guidance and decision-making regarding our open innovation strategy, activities and collaborations. Co-chaired by the heads of our Access to Health subunit and the globally acting Patents Healthcare unit, the Open Innovation Committee is part of our Open Innovation Initiative.

Our commitment: Supporting transparent and reliable frameworks

We support TRIPS, an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that addresses trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, along with addenda such as the Special Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health (also known as the 2001 DOHA Declaration). This extends the deadline for low- and middle-income countries to apply TRIPS provisions to pharmaceutical patents until 2033.

Initiative improves access to patent information

We are a founding member of the Patent Information Initiative for Medicines (Pat-INFORMED), which was established by 20 leading research-based biopharmaceutical companies. Pat-INFORMED acts as a global gateway to medicine patent information, offering tools and resources that help determine the existence of patents relevant to products sought by national and international drug procurement agencies. This transparency should make it easier for drug procurement agencies to access a basic body of patent information needed for implementing disease management strategies and other activities that address public health needs. Pat-INFORMED features patent information for small-molecule drugs within cardiovascular, diabetes, hepatitis C, HIV, oncology and respiratory therapy areas and any products on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines that are not within these therapy areas. The initiative is backed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA).

Pat-INFORMED currently houses information on over 14,000 individual patents for 600 patent families and 169 INNs, unique names that are globally recognized and used to identify pharmaceutical substances or active pharmaceutical ingredients of medicines that cover a wide range of conditions.

Open innovation collaboration through WIPO Re:Search

We continue to take part in the WIPO Re:Search , whose mission is to accelerate the discovery and development of medicines, vaccines and diagnostics. This initiative aims to create new solutions for people affected by neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis by making intellectual property and knowledge available to the global health research community. Our latest collaboration under the WIPO Re:Search platform is with the University of Yaoundé I in Cameroon (Africa) to combat the infectious disease known as . Furthermore, we are working on extending our collaboration with the University of California San Diego (United States) to find potential cures for , , and .

Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative

In partnership with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), we are involved in the Drug Discovery Booster project for , pursuing an open innovation approach through which the participating companies can simultaneously search for new treatments for leishmaniasis and Chagas disease. We are joined in this project by seven other companies: AbbVie, Astellas, AstraZeneca, Celgene, Eisai, Shionogi, and Takeda).

Patent pool
A consortium of at least two competing companies that allows partners to share the use of patents relating to a particular technology.
Essential medicines
Defined by the World Health Organization as “those drugs that satisfy the health care needs of the majority of the population”.
First-line treatment
A therapy regimen that is generally accepted by the medical establishment for the initial treatment of a given disease. If the first-line treatment is not adequately successful, a second-line treatment may be administered.
Neglected tropical disease (NTD)
Diseases that occur primarily in developing countries. NTDs include schistosomiasis, intestinal worms, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and onchocerciasis. This group of diseases is called neglected because, despite the large number of people affected, they have historically received less attention and research funding than other diseases.
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights is an international legal agreement between all the member nations of the World Trade Organization. TRIPS seeks to ensure that the measures and procedures for enforcing intellectual property rights do not become a barrier to lawful trade.
Public-private partnership (PPP)
A collaboration between public sector (government) organizations, private companies and/or not-for-profit organizations.
Buruli ulcer
An infectious disease caused by bacteria that occurs most commonly in rural sub-Saharan Africa and Australia.
A chronic parasitic infection caused by nematodes that occurs in the tropical regions of Africa and South America. In approximately 10% of those infected, the disease leads to blindness, which is why onchocerciasis is also referred to as river blindness.
A group of diseases caused by protozoan parasites. These parasites are transmitted to humans by the bites of the infected female phlebotomine sand fly. There are three main forms of leishmaniasis: cutaneous, visceral or kala-azar, and mucocutaneous.
Chagas disease
A potentially life-threatening illness caused by the protozoan parasite. An estimated eight million people are infected worldwide, mostly in Latin America.
African sleeping sickness
Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), also known as sleeping sickness, is a parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. The disease mostly affects poor populations living in remote rural areas of Africa. Untreated, it is usually fatal.
Neglected tropical disease (NTD)
Diseases that occur primarily in developing countries. NTDs include schistosomiasis, intestinal worms, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and onchocerciasis. This group of diseases is called neglected because, despite the large number of people affected, they have historically received less attention and research funding than other diseases.


Cookie Disclaimer

This website uses 'cookies' to give you the best, most relevant experience. Using this website means you’re OK with this. You can change which cookies are set at any time - and find out more about them in our cookie policy. Privacy Statement