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Roche, Medicines Patent Pool Team Up to Treat CMV

Issued: September 07 2013

Roche and the Medicines Patent Pool, a United Nations-backed, public health-driven business model that aims to lower the prices of HIV medicines and to facilitate the development of better-adapted HIV medicines have announced an agreement to increase access to Valcyte, a key medicine to treat cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Cytomegalovirus is a viral infection that can result in loss of vision and greater risk of death in HIV patients. This infection affects approximately one in 10 HIV patients in low-and middleincome countries.

The supply agreement will make Valcyte up to 90% cheaper than its original price in 138 developing countries. Both parties will consider adding more countries to the agreement if there is a need and will also explore licensing and technology transfer as a second option.

“The agreement will make an oral treatment for CMV available at lower prices, to help break a cycle of lack of screening and treatment in many countries. With medicines available, HIV treatment providers can work on wider diagnosis and treatment and prevent avoidable blindness in people living with HIV,” said Greg Perry, executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool.

“This agreement demonstrates how working together can improve the availability of treatments for people in resource-limited countries. Roche is committed to making Valcyte available to patients suffering from HIV-related CMV infections in developing countries. Our aim is to provide access to affordable Valcyte that is produced under quality conditions and increase the number of people who access and benefit from our products,” said Daniel O’Day, chief operating officer of Roche.

Treatment of CMV is typically difficult to administer, requiring several injections to the eye. This requires hospitalization of patients and care by highly trained staff, which are often not sufficiently available in developing countries. The oral treatment Valcyte is an alternative, but due to a number of reasons, including lack of screening and high prices, patients in developing countries have not been able to use the drug.

This lower price should also help create a new market for Valcyte, stimulating greater treatment of CMV. With Roche now supplying lowercost Valcyte, governments, treatment providers and funders can ramp up efforts to ensure screening for CMV becomes part of routine HIV care and people can access treatments to preserve their sight and extend their lives.

Infection of CMV is a preventable disease that attacks the retina of the eye in patients with suppressed immune systems, such as those infected with advanced-stage HIV. It is no longer a problem in industrialized countries, but still affects about 10% of the people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries mainly in Asia, and to a lesser extent in Latin America and Africa.

Roche has also agreed to license another medicine for use in HIV-related medicines to the Medicines Patent Pool, Saquinavir, in case the need arises.


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