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Access to Medicines


Public Citizen's Access to Medicines group works with partners worldwide to improve health outcomes and save lives, through use of pharmaceutical cost-lowering measures including generic competition. We help civil society groups and public agencies overcome patent-based and other drug monopolies. Our work challenges Big Pharma's economic and political power.

Since the beginning of the millennium, generic competition has helped produce a global revolution in HIV/AIDS treatment. Competition has reduced the price of first-line antiretroviral (ARV) therapy by more than 99%, from more than $10,000 to well under $100 per person, per year. Cost reductions have enabled international agencies and government health programs to scale up treatment, providing lifesaving medicines to an estimated ten million people with HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries today.

Major challenges remain. New cancer drugs are prohibitively expensive for all but the wealthy. Low- and middle-income countries confront rising rates of heart disease and other non-communicable diseases. Many of the biotech drugs needed to address these conditions will impose major burdens on healthcare budgets and are subject to emerging technical rules with long monopoly periods. Newer HIV/AIDS treatments are very expensive and widely patented, blocking the path to an AIDS-free generation. Hepatitis C infects perhaps 200 million people worldwide, largely in vulnerable populations – and the potential game-changing new treatment costs $1,000 per pill. And today’s models of pharmaceutical innovation still produce few advances for tropical diseases of the poor. Better public policy is possible.

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Peter Maybarduk, Director

Peter Maybarduk directs Public Citizen’s access to medicines and knowledge economy group, which helps partners around the world overcome high-price pharmaceutical monopolies and secure the benefits of science, technology and culture for all. Maybarduk has provided technical assistance to international organizations and to public agencies and civil society groups in more than three dozen countries. He is an intellectual property expert and presently a visiting fellow with the Information Society Program at Yale Law School. Maybarduk’s work has yielded HIV/AIDS medicine price reductions, new state access to medicines policies and global shifts toward anti-counterfeiting policies that safeguard generic competition. His analysis and strategy helped eliminate many harmful measures from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.  

Maybarduk studied technology law at Berkeley Law School (University of California) and anthropology at The College of William & Mary in Virginia. His prior work includes ethnography in South America’s Orinoco river delta and organizing campaigns for voting rights and living wages, among others. He is the co-founder of International Professional Partnerships for Sierra Leone, dedicated to supporting public sector development in one of the world’s least developed countries. Maybarduk is a composer and performer of music. See:

Burcu Kilic, Legal and Policy Director

Burcu Kilic is an expert on legal, economic and political issues surrounding intellectual property law & policy, trade, development and innovation. She provides technical and legal assistance to governments and civil society groups around the world and promotes their participation in international rule making. She has performed research and written extensively on these subjects. Her latest book "Boosting Pharmaceutical Innovation in the Post-TRIPS Era; Real Life Lessons for the Developing World" illustrates the critical role that intellectual property strategies play within access and innovation.

She completed her Ph.D. at Queen Mary, University of London as a School of Law Fellow, where she taught International and Comparative Patent Law and Policy. She holds Masters degrees from University of London and Stockholm University in Intellectual Property Law and Law and Information Technology and a law degree from Ankara University. She is also a SARChI Research Fellow at Institute for Economic Research on Innovation, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa.

Steven Knievel, Access to Medicines Advocate

Steve Knievel is an access to medicines advocate for Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines group. His work has focused on expanding access to publicly funded medicines, addressing pricing abuses of the pharmaceutical industry in the U.S., including the excessive prices of new hepatitis C cures, and preventing access-restricting proposals from being advanced through trade agreements.

Knievel’s writing has been featured in The Huffington Post and The New York Times. He received a B.A. in philosophy from University of Colorado. Previously, Knievel worked with Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

Shanna Devine, Lobbyist

Shanna Devine is the lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program. She advocates for policies that make medicines available worldwide by challenging pharmaceutical industry monopoly power. She works with strategic partners to improve health outcomes and save lives by broadening congressional understanding of political issues that jeopardize or advance access to medicines.

Devine received her Master of Public Management from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. She completed her B.A. in Critical Theory and Social Justice from Occidental College. Previously, Devine served as Legislative Director for the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower protection and advocacy organization located in Washington, DC.

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