AbbVie has inked a deal with the Medicines Patent Pool to improve access to two of its HIV drugs for children.

MPP, a United Nations-backed funding agency which is part of the World Health Organisation, has announced a licensing agreement for lopinavir and ritonavir, WHO-recommended medicines for children. The licence will enable other companies and organisations to re-formulate and manufacture specially-designed treatments for distribution in low- and middle-income countries where 99% of children with HIV live.

Greg Perry, MPP’s executive director, said “this is a crucial licence for paediatric programmes in resource-limited countries,” noting that a lopinavir/ritonavir combo in its current form “is not suitable for those most vulnerable, infants and toddlers living with HIV.” He added that MPP and its partners “have the green light to speed the development and distribution of new formulations for young children, the vast majority of whom have no access to HIV therapy”.

The collaboration marks the first time AbbVie has granted a licence for generic production of its HIV drugs, extends MPP’s portfolio to 11 antiretrovirals and one medicine for an opportunistic infection. It holds licences for other paediatric medicines from patent holders Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences and ViiV Healthcare and is in negotiations with Merck & Co to license paediatric formulations of Isentress (raltegravir).

The AbbVie licence can be used to develop fixed-dose combinations with other MPP-covered medicines such as atazanavir/ritonavir, an alternative to lopinavir/ritonavir for children.
The MPP-AbbVie agreement covers 102 countries, of which more than 65 are classified as middle-income nations, including countries where  the company does not hold patents, such as in India where the company has withdrawn its applications for both lopinavir and ritonavir.