BACKGROUND: Threats by enforced Intellectual Property (IP) rights to equitable HIV treatment access by poor populations are impending. India and Chinas policy directions in the field will be crucial in ultimately affecting the affordability and accessibility of antiretroviral (ARV) therapy in the under-served markets. These directions, together with the exploitation level of IP-bound flexibilities and the evolutionary modelling in partnerships and trade agreements between research-based and generic pharmaceutical industry, will also affect the outcomes of self-sufficiency efforts now at their beginning in the developing world as far as domestic manufacturing of generic ARV drugs is concerned. AIMS: This paper explores key issues, implications and interaction dynamics across these challenging scenarios while attempting to provide equitable solution glimpses into the near future. RESULTS: Access-oriented long-term drug policy strategies entitled to pass muster of governments, researchbased as well as generic industries in both developed and developing countries are needed if equitable access to affordable ARV treatments by poor people has to be achieved despite enforced IP rights. Predictable dynamics between western multinationals and transitional country generic corporations let regard IP-bound Voluntary License flexibilities as a fitting measure into just mentioned needs especially if substantial incentives to generic corporations are concurrently secured. Efforts to equitably expand ARV drug access through exploiting IP opportunities should encompass attainment of self-sufficiency in domestic drug manufacturing whenever basic requirements are in place in the developing world as a whole. A credible industrial potential would act, indeed, as a boosting factor for drawing branded drug producers into technology transfer agreements, the terms of which would let all contractors enjoy substantial advantages. These perspectives consistently bind up with the foreseeable long-term trade and drug policy directions of India and China according to frontier crossing implications of their key IP management trends as well as their multifaceted penetration strategies of both the wealthy and under-served markets worldwide. As coherent with these perspectives, more disbursement by wealthy country governments and donors to basic infrastructure development in sub-Saharan African nations with stable governments in place is urged both as a priority for improving Africas economy and a prerequisite for allowing domestic industrial plants to take off. Aiming at the targets just underscored, WHOs brokering role in negotiated agreements between wealthy and developing country-based firms as well as its technical guidance in setting international standards have always to be sought if equitable and appropriate end results are to be attained. CONCLUSION: Overall insights in this paper would mean that, while research-based corporations are to be praised whenever waiving, on humanitarian purposes, part of their profits, the trade and profit rules cannot basically be given up if long-term sustainable results are the goal to look for. Only negotiated agreements securing all contracting parties lasting advantages may ensure shifting of such a goal from mere vision to a really sustainable attainment.
HIV drugs, TRIPS flexibilities, mailbox medicines, generics, Voluntary license, GMP
Infectious Disease Division, Pistoia Hospital, Piazza Giovanni XXIII 1, 51100 Pistoia, Italy.