The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) has applauded the new license agreement announced between the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and ViiV Healthcare relating to its new antiretroviral dolutegravir (DTG). The agreement enables affordable access to a vital new drug for both adults and children living with HIV, and campaigners call on other pharmaceutical companies to reach similar agreements with the MPP in order to increase global access to essential HIV medicines.
“This license is very exciting,” stated Astrid Berner-Rodoreda, advisor on HIV and AIDS for Brot für die Welt and member of the EAA’s HIV campaign strategy group. “It is a new and promising ARV drug which was approved last year and will be important in future treatment options.”
She noted that, with adults in 126 countries being able to benefit – and children in 137 countries – the agreement has the widest geographic scope of any of the licenses by pharmaceutical companies so far to the MPP and covers more than 93% of all adults living with HIV and more than 99% of children living with HIV.
“It is good to see that ViiV also included the public sector of a number of middle income countries in which a patent is held or applied for – this is a demand which we as EAA have made for many years in our lobby talks with pharma companies, and we are very pleased to see it is now being acted upon, and people living with HIV in more middle income countries can benefit from the license,” said Berner-Rodoreda.
She acknowledged, however, that the royalty fees are rather high for some of these countries.
UNAIDS estimates that there are over 35 million people living with HIV. Just under 10 million people are receiving treatment, while another 18.6 million are eligible for antiretroviral therapy.
The MPP negotiates with pharmaceutical companies to share their HIV medicine patents with the Pool, and then licenses generic manufacturers to facilitate the production of affordable generic medicines well-adapted for use in resource-poor settings. Since the MPP Foundation was formally established in 2010, it has concluded agreements with Gilead, ViiV Healthcare, Roche, and BMS. ViiV Healthcare has a previous agreement with the MPP on its pediatric drug abacavir.
“This agreement sets an important precedent that includes an innovative royalty and public/private approach to some middle income countries,” said David Deakin, HIV team leader, Tearfund, and chair of EAA’s Access to Treatment working group. While several key middle income countries are not included, he said that “this is an important step in the right direction. We strongly encourage other pharmaceutical companies currently in negotiations with the MPP, such as Johnson and Johnson and Merck, to follow ViiV’s lead and increase access even farther to medicines that are most needed by the millions of children and adults living with HIV.”
For more details on the MPP license with ViiV Healthcare, visit http://www.medicinespatentpool.org.