Top Pediatric HIV/AIDS Drug to be Offered by AbbVie for Generics Manufacture

Dec 1st 2014

Heeding call to ‘Focus, Partner and Achieve’, long-term shareholders are gratified by company’s decision to open access and cut costs of life-saving medicines for the world’s most vulnerable children

NEW YORK, NY – MONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2014 – Shareholders and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)  who have long advocated for IP-sharing agreements to allow for the generics manufacture  of critical medicines for the world’s poor, welcome the news on World AIDS Day that AbbVie will be sharing its patent to a key pediatric HIV/AIDS formulation with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). The MPP, a UN-backed organization, was established in 2010 to improve access to appropriate, affordable HIV medicines and technologies for people living with HIV in developing countries. 

Said Greg Perry, Executive Director of the MPP, We are pleased with the license signed today with AbbVie for key WHO recommended medicines for pediatrics.  This agreement will contribute to ongoing efforts to improve HIV pediatric care by helping accelerate the development of new medicines catered to the needs of those most vulnerable, infants and toddlers in the developing world.”  

An estimated 3.2 million children were living with HIV at the end of 2013, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

While significant progress has been made over the past 15 years in improving access to antiretroviral(ARV) treatment for adults, only a quarter of children in need receive therapy today. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each day 500 children die of HIV/AIDS-related causes. 

The licensing agreement announced today covers a pediatric formulation known as LPV/r, a combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir, which has been identified by the WHO as the most efficacious treatment for HIV/AIDS in children under three.  It is also recommended as the preferred second-line drug for older children. 

In granting permission for the generics manufacture of LPV/r, access in developing nations, where its high cost has kept it out of reach, will be dramatically increased making it available to nearly all children (98.9%) currently living with HIV/AIDS. 

“This is a tangible example of what it means to ‘Focus, Partner and Achieve’,  the specific call to action of this year’s World AIDS Day,” said David Schilling, ICCR’s Senior Program Director. “We are heartened that AbbVie has joined the ranks of other global pharmaceutical companies such as Gilead, ViiV and Bristol-Myers Squibb and shared this patent through the MPP.  These companies have learned the value of collaboration and partnership and are taking meaningful action to create an AIDS-free generation.” 

According to UNITAID, there are few efficacious antiretrovirals available in child-friendly formulations. Problems with palatability (very bad taste), high alcohol content and temperature requirements make them inappropriate for children and unsuitable for scale-up in resource-limited settings. 

Said Julie Tanner of Christian Brothers Investment Services and leader of ICCR’s engagement with AbbVie, “Sharing patents has the potential to enhance access, affordability and innovation in the development of HIV/AIDS medicines for the people who most need them. AbbVie’s decision can further the development of child-friendly formulations that taste good and that do not need refrigeration, which can have enormous and direct impact on the lives of millions of children suffering from HIV/AIDS.” 

Members of ICCR have been engaging drug companies as shareholders since 2001 to promote greater access and affordability of HIV/AIDS medicines in low and middle income countries. Shortly after the formation of the MPP, ICCR convened a roundtable with global pharmaceuticals including AbbVie, to discuss how they could overcome barriers to joining the MPP. Since then five companies have entered into agreements with the MPP covering 11 ARVs and one product for an HIV-related opportunistic infection. 

Continued Tanner, “Like other global pandemics, the scourge of HIV/AIDS exposes the entrenched inequities and gaps of our global health system. The ‘haves’ get the services and medicines they need to survive and the ‘have nots’ too often don’t. The MPP is a practical and exceptionally successful mechanism for closing these gaps. On World AIDS Day, we are happy to highlight what we see as yet another success story  - for AbbVie, the MPP and for the millions of children who, thanks to their partnership, will now receive the medicine they so desperately need.” 


About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)

Currently celebrating its 44th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of active shareholders who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for change. Its 300 member organizations with over $100 billion in AUM have an enduring record of corporate engagement that has demonstrated influence on policies promoting justice and sustainability in the world.