New Deal Allows Generics Makers License to Sell HIV Drug

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Children living with HIV in 92 countries may soon have access to a lower-cost antiretroviral treatment.

The Medicines Patent Pool has struck a licensing agreement with Merck, allowing the development of generic formulations of the pharmaceutical giant’s oral ART drug raltegravir, or RAL. The deal involves formulations targeting babies and children from 4 weeks to 12 years old.

MPP is a U.N.-backed organization that has been negotiating for improved production of HIV medicines and technologies in low-income settings by getting pharma companies to allow for the development of low-cost, generic alternatives of their patented drugs.

Studies have shown RAL’s effectiveness in slowing the spread of HIV in the body or bringing the virus down to undetectable levels. While the drug has been approved for use by adults and children, access has been problematic because of supply constraints and high costs.

In richer countries, RAL is available for $5,000 per patient per year. Humanitarian groups can obtain the drug at a lower — albeit still expensive — price of $1,000 per patient per year. International medical group Medecins Sans Frontieres, for instance, procures RAL at $1,700 per patient per year for its HIV treatment programs in India.

The steep cost of the drug has made it difficult for countries and organizations to scale up treatment of HIV, including among children. There are currently 3.2 million children worldwide living with HIV, but only 760,000 received ARV treatments in 2013.

Source: Devex (link opens in a new window)

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