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Keywords:

  • AMCs;
  • neglected diseases;
  • pharmaceutical R&D; TRIPS

There has been a growing focus on finding ways to increase the availability of beneficial health technologies for the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, elimination and eradication of neglected diseases that disproportionately affect low-income countries. A number of interventions have been suggested but one mechanism that appears to have gained favour is advanced market commitments (AMCs), which has been piloted with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines. AMCs aim to inflate and reduce the uncertainty around the stream of expected quasi-rents provided by (uninsured) healthcare demands in low-income countries to encourage private pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms to undertake the desired R&D investments. This paper evaluates the potential of AMCs to increase the supply of new molecular entities (NMEs) for neglected diseases and notes that AMCs are the appropriate instruments as long as the global community relies (wholly or in part) on private firms to make systematic rather than piecemeal public service or philanthropic investments. It calls for a review of World Trade Organization (WTO)'s Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement to explicitly recognize the inadequacies of intellectual property rights (IPR) and patent protection in stimulating innovation and access to health technologies for neglected diseases.