In Ukraine there are more than 250,000 people living with HIV, of which about 61,000 are on antiretroviral therapy. According to the national treatment program around 118,000 people will be receiving treatment by 2018.
In Ukraine, less than half of people living with HIV receive the treatment they need. Economic factors play a major role in how many people have access to HIV treatment in the country. The high cost of patented antiretroviral drugs, further exacerbated by the devaluation of the national currency, has become a serious obstacle to expanding treatment to all people who need it.
Ukraine has a growing domestic drug industry, but antiretroviral drugs are not supplied by local manufacturers. In response to this anomaly the Council on National Security and Defense adopted a resolution on access to medicines in 2012, and a Ministry of Health Working Group on Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines was set up. As a result of the group’s work a regulation on compulsory licensing of medicines, was adopted in Ukraine in December 2013. Although, this represented a significant breakthrough, the Regulation lacks clarity and is overburdened with unnecessary provisions. The All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (Network) with its partners is working on improving the Regulation.
As Ukraine aspires to closer cooperation with the EU, it concluded a formal Association Agreement on 27 June 2014. This Agreement contains several TRIPS-plus obligations which give enhanced and unnecessary intellectual property rights to global drug manufacturers, making it more difficult for the local industry to produce generic drugs. The Ukraine government is currently reviewing its legislation to implement the Agreement, and harmonize laws with European laws. In this context, since January 2015, there have been attempts by private lobbyist groups in Ukraine to expand the data exclusivity period beyond even what is required by the Association Agreement. The Network alerted parliamentarians not to adopt such amendments, and the relevant draft law was suspended.
The Network sensitizes state officials to the implications of unmerited patents in terms of increased prices and reduced access to essential medicines. The Network organized several roundtable meetings to bring together representatives of civil society, healthcare authorities, patent office and generic manufacturers to raise awareness of key stakeholders about the negative impacts of imperfect patent laws on public health.