After several months of intense advocacy by treatment activists, ViiV Healthcare has extended its dolutegravir license to Morocco, meaning more people will be able to access optimal HIV treatment.
The extension of the license, announced on 25 April 2016, grants Morocco the right to access generic versions of dolutegravir, which until now was not possible. A patent granted by the Moroccan government had blocked access to generic versions until 2026, and with the branded version of dolutegravir costing roughly $14,000 per patient per year to treat, it put the drug largely out of reach.
We anticipate dolutegravir with impatience… We welcome this news with great relief as now we will be able to provide this treatment to our patients – Othoman Mellouk.
The initial price announced by generic manufacturers is around $44 (USD) per patient per year. Generic forms of the drug should be available in Morocco by 2017. “Dolutegravir is a very interesting molecule that we anticipate with impatience. It is efficacious, with very few side effects and recommended by the WHO since December 2015 as a first-line and second-line treatment. We welcome this news with great relief as now we will be able to provide this treatment to our patients”, said Othoman Mellouk, Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines Lead.
It is worth noting that in 2014 ViiV signed a voluntary license with the Medicines Patent Pool authorizing generic manufacturers to produce generic versions for countries with limited resources. However, Morocco was excluded from the list of eligible countries.
On 1 December 2015, L’Association de Luttel Contre le SIDA (ALCS) and ITPC-MENA called on the Ministry of Health to use its power to issue a compulsory license, removing patent protection for the drug and opening the door to generic imports. A large solidarity campaign lead by North African countries excluded from the license was held at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) in Harare, Zimbabwe in December 2015
“Since our campaign in December, we have begun talks with ViiV. There were several meetings that ended with the company rejecting the idea of extending the license to new countries preferring to negotiate the price on a case-by-case basis. We are delighted that we finally succeeded. Unfortunately, the victory is not complete since other countries (Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq) in our region remain excluded from accessing the drug”, highlighted Mohamed Msefer, Director of ITPC-MENA.