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Fresh hope on HIV treatment

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By Alick Ponje:

New data which London-based pharma company ViiV Healthcare and Geneva-based non-governmental organisation Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) released Tuesday show that innovative drug licencing agreements can provide hope for the world’s 36 million people living with HIV.

The study looked into the scale and reach of providing low-cost versions of the HIV drug dolutegravir (DTG) which the World Health Organisation just announced as the recommended first-line treatment for all populations.

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It followed agreements which the two organisations signed in 2014 which have allowed 18 generic manufacturers to bring the treatment, still patented by ViiV, to patients in low-income countries such as Malawi in record time.

So far, 3.9 million people in the developing world are said to have access to HIV treatment DTG following the access-oriented voluntary licencing agreements.

Charles Gore, Executive Director at MPP, said: “The five-year milestone provides us with a brilliant opportunity to talk about the impact public health-oriented licences can have in accelerating access to new treatments.

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“The key achievement of our agreement with ViiV Healthcare is allowing millions of people in the countries hardest hit by the HIV epidemic to have access to dolutegravir at the same time as patients in high-income countries.”

On her part, Chief Executive Officer for ViiV Healthcare, Deborah Waterhouse, said: “Enabling access to dolutegravir is an integral part of ViiV Healthcare’s commitment to ensuring no person living with HIV is left behind.

“To help us bring our medicines to people living with HIV across the developing world, our comprehensive access strategy is built upon having meaningful partnerships with public health organisations and generic companies alike.”

The agreements between MPP and ViiV Healthcare were originally negotiated in 2014 to enable 94 percent of adults and 99 percent of children living with HIV in the developing world to access generic versions of DTG in an accelerated timeframe.

By the end of 2018, nearly 3.9 million people living with HIV, across 61 countries in the developing world, had access to generic DTG and TLD because of these licencing arrangements.

Generic manufacturers have reportedly focused their supply of DTG-based regimens on countries with the most devastating levels of HIV, including Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania.

Programme Officer (Research and Advocacy) at the Malawi Network of People Living with HIV and Aids, George Kampango, said Malawi started transitioning to DTG in January this year.

He said he wanted to see all women living with HIV of childbearing age also having access to the treatment.

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