UNAIDS welcomes the announcement by Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and ViiV of three licenses signed with generic manufacturers Aurobindo, Cipla and Viatris for long-acting Cabotegravir for PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis.) PrEP can reduce risk of HIV transmission from sex or injecting drug use. UNAIDS also called for urgent action by ViiV to be taken to reduce the price and increase the production of CAB-LA now.
UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director for Policy, Advocacy and Knowledge, Christine Stegling said:
“UNAIDS applauds this announcement by the Medicines Patent Pool, and congratulates the companies on securing the licensing agreement. The generic production of affordable CAB-LA is essential to preventing millions of new HIV infections. The progress made is a testament to the power of campaigning communities who have mobilised to demand long-acting medicines, and to the determined efforts of access to medicines advocates. UNAIDS thanks ViiV for the commitment to tech sharing made through these agreements, and urges all patent holders of long-acting HIV medicines, including those still in development, to commit to share, and make their technology available, now. UNAIDS welcomes that this is only the first announcement of licensing, not the last, and urges ViiV to expand the geographic coverage of the licensing to all low and middle income countries. Because generic production will take several years to get to medicines being available for use, UNAIDS also urges ViiV to right now provide its own production of CAB-LA to procurers at an affordable price and in volumes that match need. We must all be driven by the fierce urgency of now.”
Progress in the global HIV response is slowing, and too many countries are seeing rising infections. The 2025 targets are in danger, and only bold actions can enable the curve of new infections to be pulled down. The deployment of new technologies such as long-acting CAB-LA at an affordable price is urgent and will help fill critical HIV prevention needs for people facing the highest HIV risks. It is also notably welcome that one of the sub-licenses (Cipla) plans to manufacture in South Africa, in addition to India. This is an important step in support of increased local manufacturing of medicines in Africa.
UNAIDS acknowledges this concrete step towards generic production of needed innovative products but urges that short term solutions be put in place immediately and until generic products are widely available. UNAIDS is notably concerned with the recent announcements that current supplies of CAB-LA are not at all sufficient to meet growing demand, and are much less than procurers have said they could purchase. Transparency in sharing information on volumes and price by ViiV of long-acting CAB-LA is essential to help drive progress in increasing volumes.
It is vital and urgent that long-acting anti-retrovirals for PrEP be made available at an affordable price everywhere they are needed. Middle-income countries are now where the majority of new HIV infections occur and home to many of the key populations most at risk of HIV transmission and who most need access to long-acting ARVs. But many countries are not included in this license despite considerable need for affordable new health technologies.
The issuance of these three licenses should pave the way for sharing technology on other innovations for long-acting HIV prevention and for long-acting treatment. UNAIDS urges that licensing help develop a path for accelerated market entry of generic formulations of long-acting anti-retrovirals not only for prevention, but also for treatment, when normative guidance is established, and regulatory approvals are in place at country level.
UNAIDS calls on the private sector, governments and funders to ensure that everyone who needs long-acting antiretrovirals can access them. UNAIDS will continue working with the Coalition to Accelerate Access to Long-Acting PrEP that is jointly convened by the Global Fund on AIDS, TB and Malaria, PEPFAR, Unitaid and the World Health Organization (WHO) with AVAC as its Secretariat to find solutions and ensure equitable global access to pandemic-fighting technologies for all.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations-UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank-and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at unaids.org