MONTREAL, CANADA – UNAIDS welcomed the agreement between ViiV and the Medicines Patent Pool to enable access to generic formulation of long acting Cabotegravir for PrEP to 90 low- and lower-middle income countries.
UNAIDS Deputy Executive a.i. Dr Matthew Kavanagh said: “UNAIDS applauds this decision by ViiV, and congratulates the Medicines Patent Pool for securing this agreement. Supporting the production of affordable generic CAB-LA could keep millions of people safe from HIV.”
For Kavanagh, while some pharmaceutical companies have claimed that technology sharing undermines the development of technology, “this licensing deal proves that companies can share and prosper. Progress in the global HIV response is slowing, and in too many countries we are even seeing rising infections. The 2025 targets are in danger, and only bold actions can enable the curve of new infections to be pulled down. We cannot afford to wait for new technologies to be deployed. Further action is essential to ensure that the potential that this announcement brings is fully realized.”
But Kavanagh said that it is vital that the license be extended to more than the 90 countries named.
“Middle-income countries are now where the majority of new HIV infections occur and home to many of the key populations most at risk of HIV and who most need access to long-acting ARVs. But many are not included in this license despite considerable need for affordable new health technologies,” he said.
Also, as generic production will take several years to come online, so it is crucial that ViiV commit to sell CAB-LA in low- and middle- income countries at a price as close as possible to the current cost of Oral PrEP — currently approximately $60. This would enable ViiV to prevent millions of new HIV infections.
But all the same, UNAIDS commends the non-exclusivity clauses of the agreement, which allows qualified generic producers all over the world to express the interest in producing it. UNAIDS, therefore, encourages ViiV and MPP to support generic producers in developing this new technology through a consistent transfer of technology package that goes beyond the licensing aspects.
“This agreement could pave the way for sharing of technology on long acting treatment, too. UNAIDS urges that licensing help develop a path for accelerated market entry of generic formulations of long-acting ARVs not only for prevention, but also for treatment, when normative guidance is established,” Kavanagh said.
UNAIDS also calls on businesses, governments and funders ensure that everyone who needs long acting antiretrovirals can access them.
“We urge all companies developing long-acting HIV medicines to commit to sharing technology through the Medicines Patent Pool, and all governments to act rapidly to secure affordable access to the newest technologies for all who would benefit from them,” said Kavanagh. “There must be no repeat by any company of the deadly delays in rolling out HIV products that we saw early on in the AIDS epidemic and that has recently been repeated with COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. Sharing technology is essential for stopping pandemics.”