Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, I-MAK
Tahir Amin is an attorney with more than 25 years of experience in intellectual property law. He practiced as solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales with two of the leading IP firms in the United Kingdom, as well as serving as in-house global IP counsel for multinational corporations. The son of a factory worker from a small, working-class mining town in the North of England, Amin was compelled to use the expertise he had developed to challenge a system in which intellectual property rights favored the powerful at the expense of those most in need.
In 2004, Amin left London for Bangalore, India, where he joined the Alternative Law Forum, a research collective and public-interest think tank. The HIV/AIDS epidemic had propelled the issue of high drug prices into the national consciousness, just as the country was in the midst of crafting new patent law that would give pharmaceutical companies exclusive rights over medicines. Amin quickly became highly sought-after by policymakers, workers groups, and the local media. For two years, Amin worked with grassroots activists to organize communities and educate the public about the need for public health safeguards in the new law. When the law passed, it included the protections that Amin and others had championed, making India among the first countries to consider public health in the granting of pharmaceutical patents.
In that win, Amin perceived an opportunity to advance treatment access using patent challenges, which had until then been used almost exclusively to advance private interests. He began winning patent oppositions on antiretrovirals to expand treatment of HIV on the basis of public health protections included in the new law.
On the strength of that work, he co-founded I-MAK in 2006, where he serves as a legal tactician and strategist to governments, foundations, multilateral organizations, and patient communities. He has been a trusted consultant to the World Health Organization, GAVI, UNITAID, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Doctors without Borders, and the European Patent Office. His relentless and painstakingly researched patent oppositions have strengthened access in nearly 50 countries on drugs treating 8 different diseases. His work on HIV alone is estimated to have saved health programs in low income countries over a billion dollars.
More recently, he mobilized global efforts to block the granting of unmerited patent claims on a leading hepatitis C drug. His formidable behind-the-scenes leadership paved the way for an estimated 10 million patients in China to gain access to more affordable generic treatment. Amin’s pioneering work has established a new model for treatment access, one that restores balance to the system by upending the structural power dynamics that allow inequities to persist. He is a former Harvard Medical School Fellow in the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine and was a 2009 TED Fellow. Amin is a frequent speaker on and patent policy and rising drug prices, and has been featured in CNBC, Newsweek, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, and Reuters.