Achal Prabhala

Advancing innovation and access to medicines

The Big Idea

Medicines save lives. Unfortunately the private right to profit overrides the public’s right to access. Fake innovation manifested in bad patents harms humanity and blocks affordable, life-saving drugs while impeding real innovation. Too often, the cost of bad intellectual property is the price of life.

Achal Prabhala is a writer, researcher, and thoughtful and strategic advocate for intellectual property reform and access to medicines. His fellowship idea was AccessIBSA, a tri-continental project set up to expand access and speed up the discovery of new drugs in the developing world, specifically India, Brazil and South Africa. He worked to drive change in the legal and policy frameworks that have underpinned the development and manufacture of medicines for decades.

Why We Funded

Highlights and outcomes:

Achal’s fellowship shone a rare light on a highly secretive industry and introduced openness into a closed, damaging system. His relentless drive to change policy, backed by scientific research and relentless lobbying, has increased access to medicines and shifted global thinking towards the institution of higher patent standards.

In India, he has helped steer the conversation around culture, practices and guidelines to ensure patent offices are equipped to comply with the new regulations. In Brazil, he laid significant groundwork that are the foundations of potential change in the future. His most prominent success - in South Africa - led to new policy ideas being considered at governmental level.

Perhaps most importantly, Achal and AccessIBSA produced extensive data research, exposing the manner in which the pharma industry takes advantage of lax patent laws. This could help people break free from the indoctrinated we think about intellectual property; not just in India, Brazil and South Africa, but also throughout the world. To cement some of these ideas into the public consciousness, Achal is now working on a film about the access to medicines movement.

Achal on the fellowship:

“I’ve received numerous instances of absolutely crucial support and help from other fellows, and I am incredibly grateful.

“The fellowship has been wonderful - really wonderful. I think that finding those real points of connection was just an incredible, unexpected and wonderful bonus which I will always cherish.”

Flash Grants

Erik Moeller
Varsha Gandikota
Michael Vazquez
David France
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Nirmita Narasimhan
Sean Jaccobs