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Press Release: Patent agreement improves treatment access for children with HIV

27. February 2013

    The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) today welcomes the agreement announced between ViiV Healthcare and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) that will permit generic manufacture of the anti-retroviral drug abacavir for use with children. ViiV joins Gilead Sciences as the second major pharmaceutical company to join the MPP.

    The agreement means that the MPP can issue licenses to ARV manufacturers anywhere in the world for the supply of affordable generic formulations of the drug in at least 118 countries – which account for 98.7% of children living with HIV needing treatment.

    “We applaud the transparency of this agreement, in which the Memorandum of Understanding between ViiV and the Pool has been made public, as well as the broader geographical reach of the licensing and the flexibility granted to the Pool to enable new formulations and combinations containing abacavir,” states David Deakin, HIV Programmes Manager, Tearfund UK, and chair of the EAA’s Access to Treatment working group. “Our hope is that these agreements can still go farther, especially with dolutegravir for adults.”

    “This is an important step in the treatment of millions of children living with HIV,” states Msgr. Robert Vitillo, special advisor on HIV and AIDS to Caritas Internationalis, and advisor to the EAA’s working group. “We hope that other companies will advance negotiations with the Medicines Patent Pool and will consider licenses for pediatric medications as a first step.”

    Anti-retroviral medicines (ARVs) are essential in managing HIV infection, and many of the first line ARVs developed are no longer covered by patents (which usually are applied for 20 years) and thus can be manufactured generically at a lower cost. However, individuals on treatment can develop resistance to the drugs over time, and, in that case, will need to move to second-, and even third-line drugs which are still protected by patents and often prohibitively expensive in resource-poor settings.

    Noting that ViiV is also developing a number of very new ARVs which will likely be particularly important for adults, Astrid Berner-Rodoreda, advisor on HIV and AIDS for Brot für die Welt and member of the EAA working group says, “The current pediatric license is a good model for future licenses. We now urge ViiV and other companies to also negotiate licenses for all of their adult ARVs, particularly their second- and third- line drugs.”

    Berner-Rodoreda also notes that, “Whilst this license for pediatric ARVs covers more middle income countries, some important countries in Latin America and Eastern Europe are missing which would be crucial to add for future adult ARV licences, as it is estimated that by 2020 83% of people living with HIV will live in middle income countries”.

    The MPP was created in 2010 to increase access in low- and middle-income countries to quality, safe, effective, more appropriate and affordable medicines, focusing on HIV and AIDS. The MPP negotiates with patent holders 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.

    ViiV Healthcare is a joint venture between GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Shionogi specializing in HIV-related medicines.

    For more information contact:

    Sara Speicher


    +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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