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Philip Stevens

is the founder of Geneva Network, where he oversees all research, writing, communications and fundraising. Phillip has worked for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, in its Global Challenges Division where he worked on a range of IP and health issues. At WIPO, he also coordinated the agency’s cooperation with the World Health Organization and World Trade Organization in these policy areas.

Prior to his time with WIPO, Philip worked for several London-based policy think tanks, and has worked as a political risk consultant. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, Malaysia. He holds degrees from the London School of Economics and Durham University (UK).

For more information or to contact Phillip, please visit his Company Profile Page.

Recent Articles by Philip Stevens

Unitaid’s Contradictory Approach to IP Rights Risks Progress

Founded in 2006 by the governments of France, the United Kingdom and several others, and financed by a combination of a tax on airline tickets and government grants, Unitaid is one of the lesser known players in the crowded world of global health. Unitaid’s most distinctive contribution is its Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), now approaching its tenth year of operation. It is a “one-stop shop” for patented medicines owned by different companies and available for voluntary licensing in low- and middle-income countries, so generic versions can be manufactured cheaply. At the moment, it focuses on medicines for HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and Hepatitis C. Respecting existing intellectual property rights (IPRs) for new medicines is key to the success of the MPP, as it allows rights-holders of innovative medicines to widen access to their medicines in lower-income markets without compromising their markets in wealthier parts of the world from where they derive the majority of their profits. This in turn ensures the funds for the research and development that drives medical progress. Despite demonstrating how the market-based system of IPRs can be used to promote access to medicines, Unitaid has also started to pursue energetically what it describes as a “complementary” strategy of encouraging middle-income countries to undermine and attack IP rights.

Restricting Patents on New Combinations and Uses of Medicines Makes No Sense

IP-skeptics charge that these inventions are little more than a way for pharmaceutical companies to cynically prolong patent life and maximize profits, without providing any meaningful innovation. This rather simplistic view misunderstands how the patent system works, and the role of patents in incentivizing drug discovery and development. In reality, many of today’s most significant medicines owe their existence to the ability of medical innovators to secure patents for novel new forms and new uses of existing treatments.