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Press Release: AIDS 2014 – New drug license step forward in meeting HIV treatment needs

24. July 2014

    The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) welcomes the agreement announced today at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne between Gilead Sciences and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) that extends their current license to include tenofovir alafenamide (TAF). The agreement will allow access to generic formulations of TAF in countries accounting for 92.2% of people living with HIV.


    TAF, along with new medicines such as dolutegravir, are important drugs for future HIV treatment that will likely mean safer, effective, and more affordable antiretroviral therapy, improving care for people living with HIV. TAF is currently in Phase III clinical trials and could be approved by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration in 2015. Dolutegravir is already available for generic manufacture via the license agreement between MPP and ViiV Healthcare on 1 April 2014.


    “We applaud Gilead Sciences for extending their license with MPP to include new drugs that can significantly expand options for first-line treatment for many people living with HIV,” said Astrid Berner-Rodoreda member of EAA’s Access to Treatment Working Group and HIV advisor for Brot für die Welt. “The inclusion of China as a manufacturing country in addition to India is also a step forward in expanding opportunities for generic production and competition which should bring prices down.”


    She is concerned, however, that the 5% royalty fee requested is too high, and that the license is not as broad as that for dolutegravir, which included the public sector of some middle-income countries in an innovative pricing scheme. “The ability for people living with HIV in middle-income countries to access affordable HIV medicines is still essential,” she stated.


    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 four pharma companies: Gilead, ViiV Healthcare, Roche, and BMS.


    Members of the Access to Treatment working group hope other pharmaceutical companies will follow Gilead’s lead in negotiating and reaching agreements with MPP.


    “We urge other companies to follow the example that ViiV, Gilead Science and BMS have set to enter negotiations with the Pool and reach agreements that can bring life-saving medications within reach for millions,” concluded Berner-Rodoreda.


    “The EAA has been involved in advocating with pharma companies to place their patents into the pool since the inception of the MPP,” states Pat Zerega, corporate responsibility consultant to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and member of EAA’s working group. “The faith community through our work in many countries, especially those with few resources, is very aware of the increasing need for access to HIV drugs.”


    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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