Medicines Patent Pool Signs New Licence Agreements

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By Brittany Ngo for Intellectual Property Watch

The Medicines Patent Pool, Shilpa Medicare, and Gilead Sciences have signed an agreement to increase access to HIV treatment medicines. The agreement will allow Shilpa Medicare to manufacture “five key HIV medicines for sale in 100-112 countries,” and the goal is to cover “a majority of people living with HIV.”

In a press release, the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) said Indian company Shilpa Medicare joins the group of five other generic manufacturers who are currently signed up to produce HIV medicines licensed to the Pool by Gilead Sciences in July 2011. Doing so, the Pool said, “will help ensure the supply of key HIV medicines will grow to meet rising demands for HIV treatment. The medicines covered in this agreement [pdf] are: tenofovir, emtricitabine, cobicistat, elvitegravir and a combination of the four known as ‘the Quad’.”

The exact number of countries in which the drugs can be sold depends on the drug in question. Under the agreement, Shilpa will be able to sell tenofovir and emtricitabine in 112 countries, cobicistat in 103 countries, and elvitegavir and “the Quad” in 100 countries. Some larger markets like India and South Africa are covered for all the drugs, while others such as Brazil and China are left out of the agreement.

Earlier this week, the MPP also signed an agreement with Indian generics producer Aurobindo Pharma Limited, and ViiV Healthcare, a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Shiongi.

The licence agreement allows Aurobindo to produce HIV treatment drugs for children. Medicines containing abacavir, the WHO recommended treatment for paediatric HIV, can now be sold by Aurobindo “in the 118 countries where 98.7% of children living with HIV reside.” Brazil and China are also not included in the 118 countries covered by the agreement.

The Medicines Patent Pool is a Geneva-based non-profit organisation founded in 2010 by the WHO-based UNITAID, and works to lower prices on HIV medicines and encourage development of new ones.

Brittany Ngo is currently completing her Master’s in Health Policy and Global Health at the Yale School of Public Health and previously obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics from Georgetown University. Through her studies she has developed an interest in health-related intellectual property issues. She is a summer intern at Intellectual Property Watch.

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