* Generic firms offered licences for all ViiV medicines
* Royalty-free offer includes current and pipeline products
* Covers 69 poor countries, including all sub-Saharan Africa
LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - ViiV Healthcare, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) and Pfizer’s (PFE.N) joint venture company for AIDS drugs, is opening its entire product line-up to generic drugmakers working in the world’s poorest countries.
The announcement, on the eve of next week’s international AIDS conference in Vienna, means generic companies will be able to obtain royalty-free voluntary licences for all current ViiV products, as well as products still in development.
Dominique Limet, CEO of ViiV, said the move would help drive down the cost of second-line treatments for HIV, which will be needed increasingly as more people in poor countries develop resistance to cheaper first-line drugs.
“As more people have access to treatment, there is an increased need for second- and third-line treatment options once initial treatment failure occurs,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“This is why we have taken steps to make our entire portfolio and our pipeline available through our royalty-free voluntary licensing and not-for-profit initiatives.”
The ViiV pipeline includes a novel integrase inhibitor -- a drug that prevents a virus from integrating its genome into the DNA of the infected cell -- which is being jointly developed with Shionogi (4507.T), for which new clinical trial data will be reported in Vienna next week.
The ViiV offer is open to 69 countries, including all least-developed countries, all low-income countries and the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, a group that accounts for 80 percent of people currently living with HIV.
ViiV, which was launched last November, pools the two drugmakers’ HIV/AIDS businesses into a new company owned 85 percent by Glaxo and 15 percent by Pfizer. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by Will Waterman)