Such voluntary licensing can increase competition, reduce prices, and thereby give poorer people greater access to medicines. Candidate products for voluntary licensing include those with established safety, efficacy and public health relevance for priority health problems. Ideally, such products should be those included in international and national treatment guidelines, and products with the potential for low-cost production. Licensing arrangements should ensure that regulatory authorities have access to quality assurance standards for the product.
Last year, the World Health Organization, with over 50 partner organizations, launched the International HIV Treatment Access Coalition. This coalition has set as its target to provide access to antiretroviral medicines for at least half of the six million people with HIV/AIDS in low and middle income countries who need them, by 2005. Achieving this ambitious goal depends on continued decreases in the prices of ARVs, as well as adequate international and national financing and effective delivery systems.
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