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New Program Will Design HIV Drugs Specifically for Children

A Malawian child, suffering from HIV, breastfeeds at the Zomba NRU (Nutritional and Rehabilitation Unit), 60 kms south of Blantyre, October 14, 2005 file photo.
A Malawian child, suffering from HIV, breastfeeds at the Zomba NRU (Nutritional and Rehabilitation Unit), 60 kms south of Blantyre, October 14, 2005 file photo.

A new initiative that focuses on developing and delivering HIV medicines to children in developing countries was recently launched in Washington DC.

Medicines Patent Pool, also known as MPP, is a Geneva-based organization created to increase access to quality, appropriate and, affordable drugs, for people living with HIV in developing countries. The organization is now expanding their mission to focus on pediatric formulations. MPP is working with some U.S.-based pharmaceutical companies to design and deliver the drugs to children in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions.

Greg Perry is the director of MPP. He said the lack of anti-retroviral drugs specifically formulated for children is a major public health problem and this new initiative will address that problem.

“We have around 3.4 million kids living with HIV in the world, and to date, less than 25 percent of these children have access to medicine. With this initiative he said they want to accelerate both the development and the delivery of the appropriate formulations for children living with HIV,” explained Perry.

He emphasized that when talking about formulations, the issue that must be addressed is making special formulations and special fixed dose combinations for children. He added these formulations are indicated by the World Health Organization.

“These formulations are the ones we will focus on in getting developed and getting them distributed out there to the kids that need them,” Perry noted.

The are several steps involved in getting the drugs designed and developed. The first Perry pointed out is the need to share the intellectual property in order that others can develop and subsequently manufacture the drugs.

“The second step is to ensure the development of these products. This will take place through specialized development,” said Perry. This phase often involves public/private partnerships or clinical developers.

“The third step will be manufacturing, which will take place either by originated companies or by bringing in generic companies. And the fourth step will be purchase and distribution of the formulations to the children in need through treatment programs in their specific countries,” Perry advised.

He highlighted that the major players in this initiative are U.S.-based pharmaceutical companies, some of which have already made commitments to support the program. More are expected to pledge their support and as Perry pointed out, this was one reason why it was important for MPP to announce the launch of the initiative in the U.S.