British drugmaker GSK struck a deal that would see cheaper versions of its long-acting drug used for HIV prevention in developing countries.
The agreement includes a voluntary license from GSK, so the intellectual property does not get in the way of an agreement, with the United Nations-backed health organization, the Medicines Patent Pool.
The consortium offers manufacturers the opportunity to compete to manufacture injectable versions of capotegravir in the 90 countries that account for 70% of HIV infections in 2020.
GSK’s drug is the first pill-free option that offers up to two months of protection against infections with a single intramuscular injection, and studies have shown it to be even more effective than oral pills.
The drug won US approval late last year and the World Health Organization approved its use on Thursday to help accelerate efforts to make injectable capotegravir part of the global HIV prevention arsenal.
Activists called for the drug to be sold as quickly and cheaply as possible, fearing a repeat of what happened in the 1990s and early 2000s, when poor countries could not afford HIV treatment for years.
The first copies are not expected to be available until 2026, said Deborah Waterhouse, director of HIV at GSK.
The cost of a six-dose caputgravir treatment program is $22,000 per year in the United States.
Upon completion of these studies, Waterhouse added that an annual course of caputgravir injections will cost governments “hundreds of dollars” per person, rather than thousands.
He noted that this price includes the cost of components, labor and electricity and is “not at all profitable”.
However, Matthew Kavanagh, deputy executive director of UNAIDS, said that if the break-even price were hundreds of dollars a year, poor country governments and health funding agencies such as the Global Fund would likely not could pay for it.
But he added that if it’s below $100 and closer to $60, you can change that.
It is noteworthy that approximately 1.5 million new HIV infections are registered annually in the world, most of them in countries with limited resources.
Source: Al Ittihad
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