Gilead Sciences has linked up with Ranbaxy Laboratories, Mylan and Strides Arcolab to promote access to "high-quality, low-cost generic versions" of the USA firm's HIV drug Emtriva in developing countries.

The deal covers single tablet regimens containing Emtriva (emtricitabine), and fixed-dose combinations of the drug co-formulated with other Gilead HIV medicines. The company will provide a technology transfer for the manufacture of emtricitabine, "together with funding to assist with investment in process improvements to reduce manufacturing costs".

Gilead noted that World Health Organisation guidelines recommend emtricitabine, as well as the company's Viread (tenofovir disoproxil) as preferred components of first- and second-line HIV therapy. However, it said that "cost is currently a barrier to broadening access to regimens that include emtricitabine when compared to other regimens, including widely-used lamivudine (3TC)-based regimens".

The new agreements are designed to enable Ranbaxy, Mylan and Strides to produce high volumes of FTC/Viread-based therapies, "thereby establishing sustainable price parity to these alternative regimens," Gilead said. Ranbaxy chief executive Arun Sawhney noted that his firm and Gilead "have a strong collaboration going in the area of HIV/AIDS [and] we are pleased to extend this association".

His counterpart at Gilead, John Martin, said that more than 2.7 million patients living with HIV in developing countries are currently receiving a Viread-containing regimen, including Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil). He added that "India’s pharmaceutical industry is a world leader in process chemistry, and our ongoing collaboration will be critical for furthering access to affordable, high-quality, first-line HIV treatment for developing countries".