Here's an interesting post from the PharmTech Talk blog, speaking about a new UN initiative called WIPO Re:Search. Is a forum for public and private organizations to share IP to help develop new drugs and vaccines to treat neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis. Sharing occurs through a public access database.
The National Institutes of Health as well as pharma companies like AstraZeneca, Eisai, GSK, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi have agreed to work with the group.
WIPO Re:Search members agree to license IP to researchers royalty-free in many, but not all, cases. Royalty-free licenses are really extended to the very poorest countries of the developing world and not to all countires where these diseases are prevalent.
For example, Chagas disease affects 21 countries in the America's but only Haiti (a non-endemic site) actually gets royalty-free status. In looking at the Chagas example (transmitted by black flies), it would seem the goals of WIPO Re:Search are laudable but there still seems to be room to get the bugs out in implementation.