The Medicines Patent Pool announced its mandate has expanded to include hepatitis C virus infection and tuberculosis medicines, after the UNITAID executive board approved their proposals to improve access to direct-acting antivirals for the treatment of HCV and new repurposed medicines for tuberculosis.
According to a press release, UNITAID created the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) in 2010 to provide better health options for people living with HIV. As of today, MPP has signed agreements for 12 antiretrovirals for countries with approximately 87% to 93% of its population living with HIV. Building on this model, the MPP will seek to license for generic manufacturing of new and pipeline HCV medications that can assist in eliminating the infection.
Greg Perry, executive director of MPP stated in the release: “We thank UNITAID for its confidence in the MPP. MPP believes that its unique approach to negotiating licenses for HIV is working and we look forward to applying our model to tackling access and innovation challenges in HCV and TB.”
The World Health Organization estimates that between 130 and 150 million people worldwide are affected by HCV, with a majority living in low- and middle-income countries, according to the release. The DAAs that are effective across all major HCV strains could cure millions and the MPP hopes to eliminate the infection with a short oral therapeutic regimen.
“The MPP is a cornerstone of UNITAID’s efforts to transform the HIV medicines market and rapidly scale up HIV treatment in low- and middle-income countries,” Lelio Marmora, executive director of UNITAID, said in the release. “The MPP now joins us in helping to meet international targets to make curative hepatitis C and TB medicines accessible to those who need them.”
The release further stated that TB is the leading cause of death for people living with HIV, with 1.5 million people globally dying in 2014 from the disease. TB treatment has become more difficult, and the MPP will work to ensure patients with TB gain access to new treatments for multiresistant and drug-susceptible TB.
“The TB Alliance welcomes the MPP’s entry into the TB field,” Mel Spigelman, president and CEO of the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, said in the release. “We are looking forward to working with the MPP on a range of projects, from access-oriented licensing for new drugs and regimens, to the development of appropriate formulations for children.”
Disclosures: Spigelman is employed by Global Alliance for TB Drug Development. Marmora is employed by UNITAID. Perry is employed by the MPP.