* ViiV Healthcare places paediatric abacavir in patent pool
* Move follows earlier sign-up to pool by Gilead Sciences
LONDON Feb 27 GlaxoSmithKline's
HIV/AIDS drugs business is to share intellectual property rights
on children's medicine in a patent pool designed to make
treatments more widely available in poor countries.
ViiV Healthcare, majority-owned by GSK, is the second
research-based pharmaceutical business to sign up to the new
Medicines Patent Pool, following a lead set in 2011 by Gilead
Although more than half of people living with the human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS now get the drugs
they need - thanks to a major roll-out of treatment in Africa -
an estimated 6.8 million still go without, according to UNAIDS.
The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), launched in 2010 by the
UNITAID health financing system that is funded by a levy on
airline tickets, aims to address the remaining gap by getting
patent holders to share know-how with makers of cheap generic
In the case of ViiV, a key paediatric medicine known as
abacavir will be made available to generic manufacturers which
will be able to take a licence to make and sell it in 118 poor
countries, the patent pool said on Wednesday.
ViiV and the patent pool have also agreed to negotiate
further licences that will allow generics firms to manufacture
low-cost versions of an experimental drug, dolutegravir, that is
currently awaiting regulatory approval in Western markets.
There are 3.4 million children living with HIV worldwide but
only 562,000 have access to medicines. Treating them is
challenging because many drugs are not adapted for use in
Abacavir and dolutegravir are both seen as priority products
for fighting HIV in poor countries. ViiV also sells other older
drugs, some of which are already off patent and available as
ViiV - which is owned 76.5 percent by GSK, 13.5 percent by
Pfizer and 10 percent by Shionogi - only signed
up to the patent pool after lengthy negotiations.
Some other major drugmakers have yet to join.
Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche and privately
owned Boehringer-Ingelheim are currently discussing plans to
join the scheme, but Abbott, Johnson & Johnson
and Merck have so far remained outside.
J&J decided in November to take unilateral action by not
enforcing its patents on HIV drug Prezista in a limited number
of poor countries, in a move that disappointed campaigners who
argued joining the pool would have been more effective.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler, Editing by Kate Kelland and Mark