LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline's AIDS drugs business is to add one of its latest HIV medicines to a patent pool - cutting its future price for developing countries and pooling intellectual property rights.
ViiV Healthcare, which is majority owned by the British drugmaker, said the agreement covered dolutegravir, a new antiretroviral medicine, for use in both adults and children with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS.
The move is a further victory for the new Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), which is trying to convince major drugmakers around the world to share rights to important medicines for developing countries with makers of cheap generic drugs.
"Dolutegravir is an innovative HIV therapy, and we will be working closely with generic manufacturers over the next few years to make it available to those most in need as quickly as possible," the MPP's executive director Greg Perry said in a statement announcing the agreement.
ViiV's move comes just two months after the European Medicines Agency approved dolutegravir for adults and adolescents aged 12 to 18, and eight months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of the drug.
Around 3.4 million children worldwide are infected with HIV, but less than a third of them have access to AIDS drugs. Treating HIV in children is challenging because many drugs are not adapted for paediatric use.
ViiV - which is owned 76.5 percent by GSK, 13.5 percent by Pfizer and 10 percent by Shionogi - only signed up to the patent pool after lengthy negotiations.
Dominique Limet, ViiV's chief executive officer, said the drugmaker now recognized how much difference new AIDS drugs could make in places where funds and healthcare resources are scarce, and said the deal on dolutegravir was part of ViiV's "ongoing commitment to improving access and delivering innovation in the areas of highest unmet need".
The MPP is a United Nations-backed group that was launched in 2010 by the UNITAID health financing system, which is funded by a levy on airline tickets.
(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)