27 FEBRUARY 2013, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) today announces the launch of a new collaboration with ViiV Healthcare – a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Shionogi – to facilitate greater availability of critically needed medicines for children living with HIV.

There are 3.4 million children living with HIV worldwide. But only 562,000 of them have access to medicines, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Treating them with currently available drugs is challenging, as many are not adapted for use in children.

Under the collaboration, one key paediatric HIV medicine recommended by the WHO, abacavir, can be supplied in the 118 countries where 98.7% of children living with HIV reside, under a patent licence.

MPP and ViiV Healthcare have also agreed to negotiate further licences that will allow manufacture of low-cost versions of promising new, better adapted paediatric medicines that ViiV Healthcare is currently developing. These could then be sold in the 118 countries once the medicines receive quality and safety approval from drug regulators. ViiV Healthcare and MPP have also agreed to work together on various fronts, including with other stakeholders to explore the development of more paediatric medicines to become available in developing countries (see notes to the editor). MPP and ViiV Healthcare have also committed to considering solutions for countries outside the 118.

“The daunting problem of treating childhood HIV can only be solved when all stakeholders work together,” said Greg Perry, MPP’s Executive Director.

“The Medicines Patent Pool is a win-win-win solution – it provides an innovative new business model for the pharmaceutical industry to contribute to global health, it aids low-cost, quality medicines manufacturers by allowing them easier access to the market, and most importantly allows people living with HIV around the world timely access to life-saving treatments. MPP will continue working with ViiV Healthcare and other pharmaceutical companies to expand the reach of its work to treat all children and adults living with HIV in developing countries,” Perry added.

The licence will help manufacturers of low cost medicines by providing them a licence to make and sell those medicines where they are in great need. Companies anywhere in the world will be eligible to take the licence to manufacture paediatric abacavir and market the product in the 118 countries.

“For children to be unable to access the medicine they need to survive is unacceptable. UNITAID is one of the world’s leading providers of HIV medicines for children, and in founding the Patent Pool one of our key aims was to spur the creation of paediatric medicines, and ensure those medicines are affordable and available where those children live,” said Philippe Douste-Blazy, chair of the Executive Board of UNITAID. “UNITAID is proud to have contributed to the creation of the Medicines Patent Pool. We applaud this agreement, and call on other companies to quickly join the Pool in order to expand access to medicines for all people living with HIV in developing countries.”

The Medicines Patent Pool was founded by the innovative financing mechanism UNITAID, based at the World Health Organization, to lower the cost of HIV medicines through licensing of key HIV patents and promote the development of needed formulations, such as medicines for children.

About the Medicines Patent Pool

The Medicines Patent Pool is a United Nations backed, public-health driven business model that aims to lower the prices of HIV medicines and facilitate the development of better-adapted HIV medicines, such as simplified “fixed-dose combinations” and special formulations for children. It was founded in 2010 at the request of the international community through the World Health Organization-based financing mechanism UNITAID. It works by creating a pool of relevant patents for licensing to generic manufacturers and other producers, facilitating the generic competition that brings down prices and can help stimulate innovation. The Medicines Patent Pool has been endorsed by the World Health Organization, the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS, and the Group of 8 as a promising innovative approach to improve access to HIV medicines.

Notes to the Editor:

The collaboration between MPP and ViiV Healthcare consists of a Memorandum of Understanding. The Memorandum of Understanding sets out commitments between MPP and ViiV Healthcare to collaborate in several areas with the ultimate goal of making more quality and affordable medicines for children available. These areas include: a commitment from ViiV Healthcare to licence its pipeline products for paediatric use in 118 countries once they are approved by drug regulatory authorities; provide technology transfer to aid in generic manufacture; access to data on medicines quality and efficacy; and planned partnerships with third-party stakeholders to help bring to market as-yet undeveloped new treatments, and to speed the availability of those treatments in developing countries. The MOU also contains a legally-binding licence on paediatric abacavir for use in the 118 countries where most children with HIV live.

Licences are legal permission from the holder of a patent that allow other producers to manufacture and sell generic versions of the patented medicine in developing countries, or develop adapted formulations, under certain terms and conditions. MPP negotiates licences from a public health perspective to enhance access and maximise opportunities for the development of needed formulations.

The full text of this Memorandum of Understanding, and the licence it contains, is available from the Pool’s website, as are all agreements signed by the Pool.