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Roche Adds HIV Blindness Drug to Patent Pool, Cutting Price in Developing Countries

August 6, 2013

On August 5, drug manufacturer Roche agreed to lower the price and pool intellectual property rights on its oral drug valganciclovir, which is used to treat cytomegalovirus (CMV), making the drug potentially up to 90 percent cheaper in 138 developing countries. CMV is a viral infection that can cause blindness in people with HIV. The Swiss drug maker completed negotiations with the new Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), which is attempting to convince major drug manufacturers to share rights to important medicines that could greatly benefit developing countries with those who manufacture cheaper generic drugs. Currently, the most widely used treatment for CMV in developing countries involves injections directly into the eye, which can be painful and difficult to give. MPP's agreement with Roche followed HIV treatment drug agreements made with Gilead Sciences and ViiV Healthcare, which is majority-owned by GlaxoSmithKline. The UNITAID health financing system launched the UN-backed MPP in 2010.

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