Under pressure from advocates, ViiV strikes a deal to make its long-acting HIV injectable more accessible
A week after advocates called upon ViiV Healthcare to lower the price of its long-acting HIV injectable Apretude, the company has struck a deal to make the drug more accessible in low- and middle-income countries.
ViiV and the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) 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 required regulatory approvals being obtained,” 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 requesting a lower price for the company’s long-acting HIV injectable for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
The letter, published by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, said that Apretude should be priced “as close as possible to that of other HIV prevention medicines,” or around $60 per year, Endpoints News previously reported. Apretude is first given as two injections a month apart from each other, and then every two months after. The list price is currently $3,700 per dose, according to GoodRx.
ViiV’s other HIV drug, the long-acting treatment Cabenuva, cost around $4,000 a month when it was first approved last year, according to the New York Times. While the drug was initially approved as part of a monthly regimen, the FDA cleared it for use once every two months earlier this year.
Waterhouse said in a statement on Thursday:
Today’s announcement represents a potentially game-changing moment in HIV prevention. Enabling at-scale access to generic cabotegravir LA for PrEP could play a significant role in averting the transmission of HIV, particularly amongst women and adolescent girls and help end the HIV epidemic. I am proud that through our long-standing partnership with MPP, we continue to play our part in widening access for people in resource-limited countries to new innovative medicines.
According to the World Health Organization, 38.4 million people were living with HIV/AIDS worldwide in 2021, and 650,000 people died of the condition.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS set a goal back in 2019 to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. However, progress has been slowing, advocates say. Back in 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.