Agreement reached for generic drug to prevent HIV infection

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Geneva (AFP) – An agreement has been reached to enable the distribution of a low-cost generic version of long-term HIV preventive treatment in low-income countries where most infections occur globally, Unitaid and the Medicines Patent Pool.

The agreement will allow ViiV Healthcare, a subsidiary of British pharmaceutical giant GSK, to license selected manufacturers to produce generic versions of Cabotegravir LA, its long-acting pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment for HIV .

The agreement will provide access to the injectable version of cabotegravir, which provides two months of protection against infection, in 90 countries where more than 70% of all new HIV infections occurred in 2020, Unitaid said.

“Access to an effective, long-acting HIV prevention option could contribute significantly to the goal of ending HIV transmission and ending the epidemic by 2030,” said the gatekeeper. -Unitaid spokesperson, Herve Verhoosel.

“Efforts to increase access to cabotegravir LA for PrEP will have a particularly large impact on groups that experience particularly high rates of infection, such as men who have sex with men and professionals. s sex,” he added.

Long-acting cabotegravir injections have only recently become available and have been shown to be much more effective than an oral version that had to be taken daily.

But the cost – the price of a one-year course was $22,000 in the United States earlier this year – was a barrier to widespread roll-out in all but high-income countries.

‘Absolute global priority’

The World Health Organization released new guidance on cabotegravir on Thursday, calling on countries to work to make the drug quickly available to those who need it.

“We hope these new guidelines will help accelerate countries’ efforts to begin planning and delivering CAB-LA alongside other HIV prevention options,” said Meg Doherty, director of global programs at WHO. on HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections, in a press release.

The news comes a day after a new report presented at the International AIDS Conference in Montreal, Canada, which revealed that the global fight against HIV has stalled due to dwindling resources due to Covid-19. and other crises.

Some 1.5 million new infections occurred last year, more than a million more than global virus targets.

“Long-acting PrEP could play a major role in ending the HIV pandemic, but right now very few people can get it,” said Adeeba Kamarulzaman, President of the International AIDS Society which organizes the conference.

“Expanding affordable access to this game-changing prevention tool must be a top global priority,” she said in a statement.

Unitaid is a global health initiative that aims to ensure equitable access to medical innovations in low- and middle-income countries.

The Medicines Patent Pool, founded by Unitaid and supported by the UN, works to license medicines needed for generic distribution in low- and middle-income countries.