Gilead Sciences has become the first pharmaceutical company to agree to improve access to HIV and hepatitis B treatments in developing countries by signing a deal with the Medicines Patent Pool.
The Pool negotiates with patent holders to share their intellectual property with the Pool, and then licenses it to other producers to facilitate the production of affordable generic medicines for use in resource-poor settings.
This includes developing medicines that do not require refrigeration (with electricity a large issue in many areas) or are 'fixed-dose combinations' that combine multiple medicines into one pill for ease of treatment.
Gilead's agreement will see the Pool make use of Gilead's intellectual property for the HIV medicines tenofovir, emtricitabine, cobicistat, and elvitegravi to produce versions of these medicines, as well as a combination pill to be called Quad.
The licence also allows for the development and manufacture of other combinations that include these medicines, with Tenofovir also licensed for use in hepatitis B.
"The licence agreement with Gilead Sciences will help make medicines available at a lower-cost and in easier to use formulations without delays," said Ellen 't Hoen, executive director of the Pool.
"People in developing countries often have to wait for years before they can access new health technologies. Today's agreement changed that."
Gregg Alton, executive vice president, corporate and medical affairs for Gilead Sciences, also commented on the agreement: "We are pleased to enter into this collaboration, and we hope to see the Pool become an effective mechanism for providing access to an increasingly broader range of antiretrovirals to treat HIV in resource-limited parts of the world."