A week after advocates called on ViiV Healthcare to lower the price of its long-acting HIV injectable Apretude, the company has reached a deal to make the drug more accessible in low- and middle-income countries.
ViiV and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) have signed a voluntary licensing agreement that will allow generic manufacturers in 90 countries to develop, manufacture and supply their own versions of Apretude, “subject to obtaining required regulatory approvals” , the partners announced on Thursday.
The news comes just over a week after more than 70 advocates – ranging from actors to CEOs – signed a letter to ViiV chief executive Deborah Waterhouse demanding a lower price for the actionable HIV injectable. company’s extended program for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
The letter, published by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, said the price of Apretude should be “as close as possible to that of other HIV prevention drugs”, about $60 per year, Endpoints New Previously reported. The apretude is first administered in two injections one month apart, then every two months. The list price is currently $3,700 per dose, according to GoodRx.
ViiV’s other HIV drug, the long-acting treatment Cabenuva, cost about $4,000 a month when it was first approved last year, according to the New York Times. While the drug was initially approved for a monthly regimen, the FDA cleared it for use once every two months earlier this year.
Waterhouse said in a statement Thursday:
Today’s announcement represents a potentially watershed moment in HIV prevention. Enabling widespread access to generic cabotegravir LA for PrEP could play an important role in preventing HIV transmission, especially among women and adolescent girls, and help end the HIV epidemic. I am proud that, through our longstanding partnership with MPP, we continue to play our part in expanding access for people in resource-limited countries to innovative new medicines.
According to the World Health Organization, 38.4 million people were living with HIV/AIDS worldwide in 2021 and 650,000 people died from it.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS set a 2019 goal to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. However, progress has slowed, advocates say. Last May, ViiV said it was in talks with the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) for patent rights to its HIV injectable in low- and middle-income countries.