Feature story

Delays in global, affordable access to long-acting, injectable HIV medicines would cost lives, say AIDS campaigners

16 November 2022

GENEVA – Reflecting on 100 days since the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal, at which the World Health Organisation issued landmark guidance on how long-acting injectable anti-retroviral medicines can help prevent new HIV infections, and ViiV Healthcare committed to enabling access, AIDS campaigners are urging ViiV Healthcare to take vital next steps to enable timely rollout of game-changing,  life-saving, long-acting injectable HIV medicine to millions of people. 

At AIDS2022, the International AIDS Conference in Montreal, 29th July - 2nd August, ViiV Healthcare the manufacturer of cabotegravir (CAB-LA) committed to share technology, and ensure an affordable price, for the long-acting, injectable HIV medicine. The announcement generated international excitement as CAB-LA has been shown to be a safe and effective prevention tool. Reflecting on 100 days since then, global health leaders say there is an urgent need to for ViiV to take crucial next steps. 

ViiV committed at the Conference in Montreal to lower the price for CAB-LA in a subset of low- and middle-income countries. But ViiV has not yet published this price. Advocates say the annual per person price needs to be equivalent to the price of oral PrEP,  tens of dollars not hundreds of dollars. Multiple governments and financing agencies have indicated their interest in purchasing CAB-LA for PrEP if the medicine is offered at an affordable price point. Advocates are calling on ViiV to transparently and rapidly share details of their planned pricing strategy. 

“ViiV Healthcare needs to publicly announce an interim pricing strategy, which prioritises affordability so countries and procurement bodies can plan and purchase at scale,” said Dr Yogan Pillay, South Africa country director at The Clinton Health Access Initiative. “Governments and other procurers will only purchase long-acting injectable HIV medicines at scale if the drugs are affordable and if there’s a clear timeline as to when the drugs will be available.” 

While ViiV’s commitment to facilitate the generic production of CAB-LA via an agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool for use in 90 countries is helpful, HIV experts are calling on ViiV to allow an expansion of the number of countries eligible in order to accelerate progress in supplying the product to those in need. Although the current set of 90 countries includes both low- and middle-income countries, it excludes dozens of other middle-income countries, amongst which are countries with high rates of HIV infection. Expanding the list of countries would help incentivise generic production by expanding the potential market size. 

“ViiV Healthcare should allow generic production and supply in all low- and middle-income countries,” said Lilian Mworeko, Executive Director, International Community of Women Living with HIV East Africa. “Anything short of this would mean that millions of people who need these products would not be able to access them for years to come. Every day of delay would represent failure to prevent the spread of HIV and takes us further away from ending AIDS by 2030.” 

“At the AIDS Conference in Montreal, ViiV took important first steps to enable this powerful new prevention tool to reach many in need.  It is now time for ViiV to take additional courageous steps. These include ensuring registration with medicines agencies in all the countries with the highest rates of HIV, announcing the low price and expanding the set of countries allowed in the generic market. Bold actions by ViiV in this moment could help save millions of lives,” said Matthew Kavanagh, Deputy Executive Director, a.i. at UNAIDS. 




Long acting ARVs need to be made available!

Guidelines on long-acting injectable cabotegravir for HIV prevention