Healthcare innovation

ViiV Healthcare and the Medicines Patent Pool…

ViiV Healthcare and the Medicines Patent Pool…

ViiV Healthcare and the Medicines Patent Pool sign new voluntary licensing agreement to expand access to innovative long-acting HIV prevention medicine

LONDON and GENEVA –  ViiV Healthcare, the global specialist HIV company majority owned by GSK, with Pfizer and Shionogi as shareholders, and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) today announced the signing of a new voluntary licensing agreement for patents relating to cabotegravir long-acting (LA) for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to help enable access in least developed, low-income, lower middle-income and Sub-Saharan African countries1,2.

Through this agreement, selected generic manufacturers will have the opportunity to develop, manufacture and supply generic versions of cabotegravir LA for PrEP, the first long-acting HIV prevention medicine, in 90 countries, subject to required regulatory approvals being obtained. It is expected that this agreement will help to enable at-scale access to generic cabotegravir LA for PrEP. This announcement comes just seven months after the first regulatory approval of cabotegravir LA for PrEP in the world, by the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA).

Each year, there are approximately 1.5 million new cases of HIV worldwide3, most of which occur in resource-limited countries, with women and adolescent girls disproportionately impacted. While oral PrEP options are available in many countries, challenges with adherence and stigma have limited their impact in some populations. Access to an effective long-acting HIV prevention option could significantly contribute towards the goal of ending the epidemic.

The new voluntary licence announced today builds on a long-standing partnership between ViiV Healthcare and MPP, which has been highly successful in facilitating the manufacture and sale of generic versions of oral ViiV Healthcare medicines in countries most affected by HIV and least able to pay for treatment and care. In particular, voluntary licensing has enabled access to generic products containing another of ViiV Healthcare’s innovative medicines, dolutegravir, for at least 20 million people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries, as of December 20214.

Deborah Waterhouse, CEO at ViiV Healthcare said, “Today’s announcement represents a potentially game-changing moment in HIV prevention. Enabling at-scale access to generic cabotegravir LA for PrEP could play a significant role in averting the transmission of HIV, particularly amongst women and adolescent girls, and help end the HIV epidemic. I am proud that through our long-standing partnership with MPP, we continue to play our part in widening access for people in resource-limited countries to new innovative medicines.”

Charles Gore, MPP Executive Director said, “We are delighted to sign this voluntary licence with ViiV for cabotegravir LA for PrEP. Long-acting technologies open up a whole new dimension that facilitates medicine uptake, and this product brings a much-needed option for those at risk. This licence was negotiated in double-quick time and is another example of MPP’s continued commitment to making innovation available and affordable in low- and middle-income countries in the shortest possible time. Rapid access to new technologies is our only hope of hitting the Sustainable Development Goal targets.”

This voluntary licence forms part of a holistic approach to enable at-scale access to cabotegravir LA for PrEP in least developed, low-income, lower middle-income and Sub-Saharan African countries1. There are complexities and considerations that need to be managed to support the manufacturing and roll out of a generic long-acting injectable. Compared to oral PrEP options, cabotegravir LA for PrEP is more complex to manufacture and there is an evolving and less well-defined demand for the product. These are challenges not only for ViiV but also for any potential generic partners. ViiV Healthcare and MPP will now work closely with stakeholders and generic manufacturers selected through MPP’s expression of interest process to enable access to generic cabotegravir LA for PrEP as soon as possible.

Cabotegravir LA for PrEP is a long-acting injectable which has recently gained its first regulatory approval for use in HIV prevention the USA for at risk adults and adolescents weighing at least 35kg for PrEP to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV-1 infection. Individuals must have a negative HIV-1 test prior to receiving it.  It is not currently approved for use in HIV prevention anywhere outside of the USA. ViiV Healthcare has submitted marketing applications in a number of countries including the majority of countries where the clinical trials were conducted, with further registrations planned. ViiV Healthcare is also working with stakeholders, including global health agencies, non-governmental organisations, governments and community partners to understand country-specific contexts and is supporting implementation science projects that will provide critical information on the feasibility, acceptability and scalability to deliver successful introduction of cabotegravir LA for PrEP into national programmes, which would be needed to enable any future generic version of the product.

Partner quotes:

Dr Philippe Duneton, Executive Director, Unitaid

“Long-acting PrEP has the potential to transform HIV prevention efforts, but only if it is made widely available at affordable prices. Unitaid welcomes the news of this voluntary licence, agreed in record time, which gives people at risk of infection additional options so they can choose the HIV prevention method that works for them. Developing solutions that respond to different needs and preferences is critical to averting new infections globally.”

Unitaid created the MPP to facilitate access conditions for critical medicines in 2010 and continues to be MPP’s principal funder.  A new coalition to accelerate access to long-acting PrEP, convened by Unitaid and partners, is working to develop and implement coordinated strategies to overcome access challenges to new PrEP options. 

Linda-Gail Bekker, Director of the Desmund Tutu HIV Centre at the University of Cape Town

“This is really welcome news and a next important step along the road to ensuring the promising innovation of injectable PrEP is made accessible to all who would benefit from it even those from the least well-resourced regions. We know primary prevention is key to controlling HIV globally but to get the most from innovation we need access and scale up.”

Jacque Wambui from Kenya, AfroCAB

“Afrocab Treatment Access Partnership and our many community partners welcome this announcement regarding the generic licensing of CAB-LA. CAB-LA will undoubtedly have a transformative impact on HIV prevention efforts in our communities. We are pleased to see that Afrocab’s and community partners’ advocacy around CAB-LA access did not go unheard. Today’s announcement is an exciting milestone, but we know much work is still needed to ensure CAB-LA is widely available in our settings. We now eagerly and anxiously await a bridging price to make CAB-LA accessible in LMICs NOW. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure that the promise of CAB-LA is realised.”

Access the licence agreement

The press release is also available in FrenchSpanish and Russian (translations by MPP).

MPP invites Expressions of Interest (EoI) from potential sublicensees based anywhere in the world for sublicences to manufacture and sell the cabotegravir long-acting injectable  for PrEP in the licensed territory:

Access the EoI portal

More information on the licence