Greg Perry’s statement to the BioVision opening plenary
24 March 2013: The MPP aims to advance innovation, expand access to HIV medications and promote public health. We were created to be “a new business model for the future”, according to Phillipe Douste-Blazy, former minister of France and chair of UNITAID.
This model relies on partnerships. We work with key stakeholders – originator pharmaceutical companies, generic companies, and people living with HIV, governments and intergovernmental organisations – in order to help address the problem of access to HIV medicines.
The problems related to treating the disease are well known. There are seven million people who urgently need HIV treatment and do not have access to it. Nearly half of them are children, and almost all of them live in world’s poorest countries.
People living with HIV in developing countries can rarely afford the treatment they need as those medications are priced for markets in developed countries. The treatments they need also have to be formulated appropriately for their circumstances, for example medications for children and fixed-dose combinations, and customising treatment for them can be time consuming and costly. We therefore encourage patent pooling also as a means of stimulating new innovations.
To meet rising demand for HIV medicines – in the face of donor funding constraints – sources of affordable, appropriate HIV treatment must be expanded.
Only by all stakeholders working in partnership together can the complex problem of access to innovative HIV medicines be solved. MPP offers a way to do this.
For our partners in the pharmaceutical industry, the MPP allows patent-holders to make their innovative HIV products easily available to quality producers. Bilateral negotiations with generics can be costly and complex: the MPP provides a one-stop shop that cuts down on transaction costs and streamlines the provision of licences that can allow for new HIV medicines to be sold in the places they are most needed.
MPP works with the World Health Organization Prequalification Programme and similar authorities, such as EMEA and the US FDA, to ensure that all its sub-licensees meet stringent standards of quality assurance.
Patent-holders and generic manufacturers alike have already recognised the role of the MPP in the HIV space. So far, three patent-holders have licensed their medicines to our pool. They are the US National Institutes of Health, Gilead Sciences, and ViiV Healthcare, a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Shionogi. To date, six sub-licensees have taken sub-licenses from the Pool and are working to produce medicines for sale in developing countries.
The MPP exists to increase access to treatment, and as such people needing treatment are an essential part of our work. Representatives from communities of people living with HIV sit on our governance board and expert advisory group, overseeing MPP decisions and guiding the choice to sign a licence. We also regularly consult with communities of PLHIV and other non-governmental organisation stakeholders to gather their feedback and ensure that MPP’s work addresses their needs.
Transparency is also important to us. Public-health stakeholders are increasingly concerned about terms and conditions contained in licence agreements. Our licences are unique in that they are published on our website, thus ensuring complete transparency over the terms included within them.
Our reputation and work is widely recognised. The 2012 Access to Medicines Index called on companies to join the MPP, describing our work as “the best hope for ensuring sustained access to new first-line [HIV] treatments.” In addition, the MPP has been endorsed by the UN high-level meeting on HIV, the World Health Organization, and the Group of 8. It has received supporting statements from UNAIDS, from the governments of the United States, France and the UK, and has received a “Licensing Executive Society” award in 2012 for its work with Gilead.
As a recent addition to the MPP – I joined the organisation in January – I look forward to the journey ahead and am confident we can provide solutions to achieve the aims of all our partners. Ultimately, together, we can significantly increase the number of PLHIV in developing countries on the right treatment at the right price and provide a win-win business model for public health cooperation for the future.