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Priti Radhakrishnan (2008) Pop!Tech Pop!Cast

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POP!TECH [♪ POP!TECH Theme Music ♪] Brings Together The World's Leading Thinkers To Share Inspiration and Ideas Igniting Change And Unlocking Human Potential This Is Part Of Their Ongoing Conversation POP!TECH POP!CAST Good afternoon. How's everybody doing post-lunch? Good. I wanted to share this photograph with you because it marks the beginning of our story with this work. It was taken 5 years ago in Bangalore, India. What if I told you that 5 years ago, I had discovered a life-saving treatment for leukemia. What if I tell you now that I wouldn't give it to all of the cancer patients who are desperately waiting for treatment. This really happened. The company that was selling a drug for chronic myeloid in India 5 years ago -- chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) -- was charging $50 per patient per month, already too expensive for most people in the country. Then India started to pass its patent law, and the company hiked the price up to $2,000 per patient per month. Overnight, cancer patients in India were unable to afford the drug that was keeping them alive. We knew we had to act, so working with local NGOs, what we started to do was review the patents around this drug and other unaffordable medicines. We wanted to see if the patents complied with the law -- and they didn't. So what we did was selectively started challenging these patents by filing legal interventions. Our approach worked. Over the last 2 years, we've seen prices come down significantly on life-saving medicines, and we've won cases. According to Doctors Without Borders, in the case of one critical HIV drug, because of our legal intervention the price came down from $2,000 per patient per year to less than $200. That's a tenfold decrease in price. That's 7 million people living with HIV waiting for treatment who now have a chance at life. So that's our story, that's I-MAK, that's why we founded it. I-MAK is a global, independent team of lawyers and scientists who are all dedicated to this idea of access for the poor by making sure that the patent system is working. Along the way, though, we realized that besides access, there's actually a second issue that we need to work on. And that's the idea of innovation -- or the lack of it. According to the US government's accountability office, every year, the number of life-saving therapies coming out of industry is actually decreasing. This year, for me, that hit closer to home. This year, both of my best friends have passed away. One from leukemia, and one from a sudden neurological complication. Both of my friends were extraordinary people. And they were both 29 years old. Why I wanted to share this with you is because it's had a profound impact on the work that we do. You see, we've realized that it's time to start balancing our work on access with improving innovation. The state of innovation is not catching up with the diseases that are taking our loved ones. There is still no cure for acute myeloid leukemia or for most forms of cancer. We at I-MAK really feel that part of the problem does lie with the broken patent system. And what we intend to do about it is this: We're building a map of the innovation landscape, for the first time, that will sit freely in the public domain. We're starting with 100 life-saving drugs and their patents, and by doing this we hope to show where invention is really happening in industry, and where it's not, what the bottlenecks are, so that together we can start rebuilding a broken patent system that is still causing preventable death. Too much information and knowledge is still on lockdown by unmerited patents that are getting in the way of genuine R & D. Our team is ready. Our team of corporate lawyers and scientists have spent years in industry, trying to create, trying to innovate, and yet they found themselves for decades, you know, formulating old drugs into new combinations, formulating old compounds into new salts, filing patents on polymorphs as though polymorphs are even an invention. The incentives in the system are flawed. The incentives in the system are flawed. It is time for a new system. It is time for a new system that unlocks scientific knowledge that has been locked away. It is time to put it in the public domain. It is time to clear the way for research. It is time to pave the way for development. It is time to flip the incentives of a system that are holding all of us back from true innovation. It's time. Thank you. This work is licensable under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License For details please visit POP!TECH For more Pop!Casts, information on Pop!Tech or to learn how to participate, visit

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 14 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pop!Tech
Director: Pop!Tech
Views: 117
Posted by: beth on Nov 20, 2008

Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow Priti Radhakrishnan, Shares her ideas at Pop!Tech 2008

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