The Medicines Patent Pool has inked a deal with ViiV Healthcare – the joint venture set up by GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Shionogi – to improve access to medicines for children with HIV.

MPP, a United Nations-backed funding agency which is part of the World Health Organisation, says that under the collaboration, the HIV drug Ziagen (abacavir) can be supplied in the 118 countries where 98.7% of children living with HIV reside, under a patent licence. MPP and ViiV have also agreed to negotiate further licences that will allow the manufacture of low-cost versions of "promising new, better adapted paediatric medicines" that the JV is currently developing, notably dolutegravir.

ViiV and MPP have also agreed to work together "on various fronts, including with other stakeholders to explore the development of more paediatric medicines to become available in developing countries". There are 3.4 million children living with HIV worldwide, but only 562,000 have access to medicines, according to the WHO.

Greg Perry, MPP’s executive director, said the agency is "a win-win-win solution – it provides an innovative new business model for the pharmaceutical industry to contribute to global health, it aids low-cost, quality medicines manufacturers by allowing them easier access to the market, and most importantly allows people living with HIV around the world timely access to life-saving treatments".