amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

New Agreement Could Facilitate Production of a Generic Oral CMV Treatment

In August, the pharmaceutical company Roche signed an agreement to enter the patent for valganciclovir (Valcyte®) into the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). This could lead to a reduction in the price of the oral tablet to treat CMV—an infection that can cause blindness in HIV-positive people if left untreated (see page 3)—by up to 90% in 138 low- and middle-income countries. The United Nations-backed MPP was launched in 2010, using UNITAID financing. When pharmaceutical companies enter their patented HIV-related medicines into the “pool,” they are agreeing to allow the MPP to issue low-cost licenses to individual generic manufacturers to produce the medicines. This allows the production and sale of cheaper versions of drugs in developing countries before the patent on them runs out.

“The agreement will make oral treatment for CMV available at lower prices to help break a cycle of lack of screening and treatment in many countries,” said Greg Perry, executive director of the MPP. Currently, four months of Valcyte costs approximately $6,000 in developing countries, a prohibitive price tag. CMV can also be treated through a series of cheaper eye injections, but these must be administered by highly trained staff and are not available in many areas. In Asia, 14% of HIV-positive people have been infected with CMV, the world’s highest prevalence rate.1  Previously, the MPP struck similar deals with pharmaceutical companies Gilead and ViiV Healthcare.

  1. Ford N, Shubber Z, Saranchuk P, Pathai S, Durier N, O’Brien D, Mills EJ, Pascual F, T’ Hoen E, Holland GN and Heiden D. Burden of HIV-related CMV retinitis in resource- limited settings: a systematic review, Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2013 Jul 29.