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Press Release: New license agreement brings hope to HIV positive children

3. December 2014

    The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) applauds the licensing agreement announced on 1 December by the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and AbbVie for the drugs lopinavir (LPV) and ritonavir (r), top World Health Organization-recommended medicines for children.


    In welcoming the agreement, David Deakin, HIV Team Leader, Tearfund, and chair of the EAA’s Access to Treatment Working Group highlighted that the agreement will allow access to generic formulations of LPV/r in countries accounting for 98.9% of children living with HIV.


    In clinical trials, treatments with LPV/r showed better results over other treatment combinations used in infants and toddlers. It is also recommended as second-line for older children, after they develop resistance to first-line medicines. However, existing pediatric formulations of LPV/r are not suited for children under 3. They have a very bad taste and high alcohol content, and need to be refrigerated at all times, making them unsuitable for increased use in resource-limited settings. 


    “Lack of appropriate formulations have been a key barrier to the implementation of this WHO recommendation,” stated Deakin. “This license is important to ensure new formulations, as well as generic versions of the current oral solution, can be made available in countries in which AbbVie has patents on LPV/r.”


    Stuart Kean, Senior Policy Adviser – Vulnerable Children and HIV & AIDS, World Vision International and member of the working group noted, “This development is a major step forward for children living with HIV, of whom 50% will die before the age of two without treatment. Having these formulations available for young children is a key component in achieving the goal of all children living with HIV being able to access treatment, not just the 24% who have access today.” 


    Astrid Berner-Rodoreda, member of the working group and HIV advisor for Brot für die Welt, stated, “We have been in talks with AbbVie for many years, as AbbVie had not previously issued a voluntary license to any generic company. We have encouraged AbbVie to negotiate with the Patent Pool and are extremely pleased that the negotiations have come to a successful conclusion.”


    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 medicines well-adapted for use in resource-poor settings. Since the MPP Foundation was formally established in 2010, it has concluded agreements with five pharma companies: Gilead, ViiV Healthcare, Roche, BMS and now AbbVie.


    “This is a major breakthrough which we have been waiting for for a long time,” Berner-Rodoreda stated. “It will simplify the HIV treatment for small children and ensure that pediatric formulations will become more appropriate for developing countries.”


    For more information contact: Sara Speicher, sspeicher@e-alliance.ch, +44 7821 860 723.


The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on food and HIV and AIDS. The Alliance is based in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, see http://www.e-alliance.ch/

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