This patent lawyer shows even the pharmaceutical industry can be changed

The Correspondent is a member-funded journalism platform. With the support of their members, they allow their correspondents to write about topics that may not fit a fast-paced news channel, but are very relevant.

Today I discovered this article about Ellen ‘t Hoen, a patent lawyer who changed the pharmaceutical industry. I’d say it’s a must-read, but unfortunately the article is only in Dutch. In short, she did three things that seemed impossible:

  • She sued sixteen producers of  di-ethylstilbestrole (DES), a drug prescribed to pregnant women which caused problems in their unborn children;
  • She worked hard to get essential medicines to developing countries (and is an author of the Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines Report);
  • She managed that pharmaceutical companies voluntarily pool their patents, in order to allow the generic (cheaper) production of these drugs in low-income countries. She explains this in her TEDx talk.

The more I hear about her, the more I admire her. I’ve met her a few times during activities of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, and she’s an amazing speaker too. Make sure to keep an eye on the UAEM agenda, but start with reading the links above 🙂

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