The Obama Administration is committed to increasing access to medicines and supporting innovation for the development of new and improved drugs for HIV/AIDS and other diseases. This week’s announcement of an agreement between ViiV Healthcare (a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Shionogi) and the Medicines Patent Pool marks a significant step forward in ongoing efforts to achieve both access to medicines for developing countries and the promotion of innovation to develop more of these life-saving treatments.
This week’s important agreement will enable low-cost versions of a new antiretroviral drug for HIV/AIDS (dolutegravir or DTG) to be produced for use in countries with the highest HIV burdens, collectively home to 93 percent of adults and 99 percent of children living with HIV in the developing world. The Medicines Patent Pool and ViiV Healthcare brokered the agreement, which will help this promising drug to fight HIV/AIDS reach developing country patients at a record pace – just months after the Food and Drug Administration’s fast-track approval. Under this week’s agreement, ViiV has waived all royalty fees in sub-Saharan Africa, least-developed countries, and low-income countries.
The agreement also includes a commendable licensing term with important implications for access to medicines given that the majority of the world’s poor now live in middle-income countries. Specifically, the ViiV Healthcare deal segments the market in six large middle-income countries, granting generic companies a voluntary license to deliver low-cost DTG to public and nonprofit HIV programs that serve the poor even as ViiV Healthcare exercises its exclusive market rights in the private sector. This is a novel approach that both extends access to life-saving drugs within developing countries and supports the innovation that makes such breakthroughs possible.
The National Institutes of Health, Gilead Sciences, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, and ViiV Healthcare have all made strong contributions to the success of the Medicines Patent Pool. As the Medicines Patent Pool continues to grow, adding industry partners and access to their life-saving medicines, we look forward to celebrating future voluntary arrangements, and the concrete steps we are taking together towards President Obama’s shared vision of an AIDS-free generation.