I-MAK's Director for Treatment Access Selected for Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit

Tokyo, November 12, 2008 --- Priti Radhakrishnan, director of treatment access for the non-profit Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge (I-MAK), has been selected as one of 160 emerging leaders from 30 countries in the Asia-Pacific region who will gather at the Four Seasons Hotel in Tokyo for the Asia Society’s Third Annual Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit. For full press release click here


Priti Radhakrishnan Awarded Pop!Tech 2008 Social Innovation Fellowship for I-MAK Work as World-Changing Innovator


Priti Radhakrishnan, I-MAK Director


Priti Radhakrishnan Awarded Pop!Tech 2008 Social Innovation Fellowship
for I-MAK Work as World-Changing Innovator

New York, NY, October 7, 2008 -- Priti Radhakrishnan, co-director of the non-profit Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge (I-MAK), has been awarded a Pop!Tech 2008 Social Innovation Fellowship for her work as a world-changing innovator.

More than 100 submissions were received from 30 countries in Pop!Tech’s search for the most outstanding visionary change agents to the world’s social, economic and environmental challenges. Radhakrishnan was one of only 16 Social Innovation Fellows to be selected for the 2008 program.

Each Fellow is working on a transformative solution to a critical global challenge, in categories such as sustainable energy, human rights, education, economic development, healthcare and civic engagement.
I-MAK’s work in global healthcare defends public interest by ensuring that unmerited pharmaceutical monopolies and weak patent systems do not cause people to suffer and die preventable deaths, because they cannot afford the medicines that exist to help them.

The Pop!Tech program is designed to accelerate the positive impact of I-MAK’s work by connecting Radhakrishnan with world-class thought leaders as well as the latest tools and thinking in emerging technology, design, communications, branding, funding and scalability. The program’s faculty will lead the Fellows through an intensive four-day “boot camp” in Maine prior to the start of “Pop!Tech 2008: Scarcity and Abundance.”

About I-MAK
The non-profit Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge (I-MAK) is a team of lawyers and scientists working to strengthen patent systems and encourage innovation in new medicines, while expanding broad access to the best and latest treatments. The organization does this by reviewing pharmaceutical patents to strengthen patent examination, and selectively exposing unmerited pharmaceutical patents – which drive up the cost of essential drugs and prevent them from ever being accessible in less developed countries for poor patients. I-MAK's team is working to create technical analyses of 100 critical medicines and patents, which will help them preempt the granting of unmerited patents, increase accountability and ultimately make lifesaving drugs more affordable. I-MAK’s patent information, databases, publications and presentations are available for reference at

For a printer friendly version of the press release click here


I-MAK Directors Awarded Prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship

I-MAK Directors Priti Radhakrishnan and Tahir Amin have been awarded the highly selective Echoing Green fellowship. The competitive process led to 20 social change organizations being chosen out of nearly 1450 applicants from 83 countries. The fellowship enables Priti and Tahir to work full-time for I-MAK for two years. It includes $45,000/year in seed funding, technical support to turn their innovative ideas into a sustainable organization and integrates them into a community of successful social entrepreneurs. With the support of Echoing Green, Priti and Tahir will develop I-MAK as an innovative social change organization committed to improving patent quality and access to medicines.

What is Echoing Green?

To accelerate social change, Echoing Green invests in and supports outstanding emerging social entrepreneurs to launch new organizations that deliver bold, high-impact solutions. Since 1987, Echoing Green has provided seed funding and support to nearly 450 social entrepreneurs with bold ideas for social change in order to launch groundbreaking organizations around the world. For more information about Echoing Green, visit

I-MAK Challenges Patents on Lifesaving HIV Drug Combination in Europe, India

For more information:

August 16, 2007

New York – Today, a U.S.-based non-profit organization, the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK) announced its filings of critical patent challenges on the HIV drug combination Lopinavir/Ritonavir. This drug combination is manufactured and sold by U.S. drug company Abbott Laboratories under the brand name Aluvia®. I-MAK’s patent submissions were filed at the European Patent Office and the Indian Patent Office.

The tablet form of Lopinavir/Ritonavir is considered to be important for patients compared to the older soft-gel capsule form. The tablet does not require refrigeration, does not have dietary restrictions, and lowers the number of pills a patient must take per day.  However, Lopinavir/Ritonavir is an old drug, and has been known and formulated for several years. Merely reformulating old drugs in a different way, without showing inventiveness, is not patentable under either European or Indian law.

Today, I-MAK challenged the validity of Abbott’s patent applications and Abbott’s attempts to prolong its exclusivity over the drug. To date, no patent has been granted on the Lopinavir/Ritonavir tablet in Europe, India or the U.S. It is believed that the patent is also not granted in Brazil, South Africa or China.

Access Issues for Lopinavir/Ritonavir Tablet
The World Health Organisation recommends Lopinavir/Ritonavir as a leading second-line antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. The present cost structure by Abbott Laboratories - $1000 per patient, per year as its middle-tier price and $500 per patient, per year as its lowest price – remains a serious barrier to scaling up access to HIV treatment worldwide. Further, the price of $500 is only offered to a small number of countries, and developing countries with large numbers of People Living with HIV must purchase the drug at significantly higher prices.

The Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative has been among the organizations pursuing cost and price reductions for Lopinavir/Ritonavir by encouraging the entry of generic competition.  President Clinton announced a reduced generic price for Lopinavir/Ritonavir in May 2007, and urged Abbott to do more to enable generic production and lower its own pricing in the developing world. To date, there is no change in Abbott's refusal to license the Lopinavir/Ritonavir tablet to generic companies or to reduce its prices in developing countries.

Currently, very few generic versions of the drug are available. Cipla, an Indian generic company who pioneered the lowering of prices on first-line HIV drugs in 2001, is currently offering a generic version of the Lopinavir/Ritonavir tablet.

I-MAK's submissions raise serious questions on the validity of Abbott's claimed exclusivity, which, if successful, should open the door for suppliers to provide (or continue to provide) the drug at lower cost.

Basis of Patent Challenge
I-MAK’s patent submissions are based on legal and scientific grounds.  The crux of the argument is that the tablet is not inventive: under the law, a drug must be an invention to obtain a patent. The I-MAK submissions argue that Abbott is claiming inventiveness by merely adding known substances, like the polymer PVP to the old drug combination Lopinavir/Ritonavir, using a previously patented technology, Meltrex® (or melt-extrusion).

“Abbott’s application on the Lopinavir/Ritonavir tablet is not inventive and, if granted, would prevent others from supplying low-cost versions of the drug,” stated Tahir Amin, Director of I-MAK. “It is an egregious example of how the public is harmed by improper extension of patent life by Abbott Laboratories.”

Background on Lopinavir/Ritonavir Tablet

Lopinavir and Ritonavir are HIV medications classified as protease inhibitors. Entities including international organizations Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative, Medecins Sans Frontieres, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and UNITAID have highly prioritized the Lopinavir/Ritonavir combination to save the lives of patients across the world.

Abbott Laboratories has come under scrutiny in the past for its unconscionable pricing practices on Lopinavir/Ritonavir, such as the 2004 Ritonavir price hike and the more recent controversy against the Government of Thailand for issuing a compulsory license on Lopinavir/Ritonavir.

About the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK)
I-MAK is an independent not-for-profit public service organization consisting of lawyers and scientists working to protect the public domain against undeserved patents. I-MAK works globally to ensure that patents do not act as a barrier to research and restrict the public’s access to affordable medicines. Previously, I-MAK has supported patient’s groups in filing against the Lopinavir and Ritonavir patents individually, as well as against the previously known soft-gel capsule of Lopinavir/Ritonavir.

Tahir Amin,  I-MAK Director (+1 917 455 6601)
Priti Radhakrishnan, I-MAK Director (US: +1 917 703 2876)
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