LONDON Aug 5 Roche is to slash the
price and pool intellectual property rights on a drug to treat a
viral infection that can cause blindness in people with HIV.
The move is a further victory for the new Medicines Patent
Pool (MPP), which is trying to convince major drugmakers to
share rights to important medicines for the developing world
with makers of cheap generic drugs.
The agreement will make Roche's oral drug valganciclovir for
cytomegalovirus, or CMV, up to 90 percent cheaper in 138
developing countries. The Swiss drugmaker will also enter into
licensing and technology transfer negotiations to encourage the
development of cheap generic versions of valganciclovir.
Currently, the most widely used treatment for CMV in
developing countries requires injections directly to the eye,
which can be painful and also difficult to administer.
CMV affects around one in 10 people living with HIV in
low-and middle-income countries.
The deal between Roche and the patent pool, announced by the
two organisations on Monday, follows earlier agreements covering
drugs to treat HIV made by Gilead Sciences and ViiV
Healthcare, which is majority-owned by GlaxoSmithKline.
The MPP is a United Nations-backed group that was launched
in 2010 by the UNITAID health financing system.