The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today welcomed new initiatives by some companies to license their patents for certain HIV/AIDS drugs to generic manufacturers, resulting in increased competition, reduced prices, and greater access by poorer people to needed medicines. Candidate products for voluntary licensing include those with established safety, efficacy and public health relevance for priority health problems, WHO said in statement, which noted that such products should be those included in international and national treatment guidelines, and products with the potential for low-cost production. Licensing arrangements should also ensure that regulatory authorities have access to quality assurance standards for the product. Last year, WHO and more than 50 partner organizations launched the International HIV Treatment Access Coalition, which aims to provide access to antiretroviral (ARV) medicines for at least half of the six million people with HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries who need them by 2005. “Achieving this ambitious goal depends on continued decreases in the prices of ARVs, as well as adequate international and national financing and effective delivery systems,” WHO stressed.