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Medicines Patent Pool TB Deal Praised But Raises Concerns of Affordability

 
The Medicines Patent Pool announced that it has signed a license agreement with Johns Hopkins University for a candidate tuberculosis treatment. Although seen as a major step forward by public health groups, they said the agreement does not include guarantees that the treatment that could be brought to the market would be affordable for all.
 
The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) was founded by UNITAID and remains fully funded by the United Nations organization. The MPP facilitates the access to HIV, viral hepatitis C and tuberculosis treatments in low-and middle-income countries through licensing agreements with those medicines manufacturers. The medicines can then be manufactured by generic pharmaceutical companies at a lower price.
 
This agreement comes in an effort to fight multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, according to a Medicines Patent Pool press release. The treatment (sutezolid) is an antibiotic of the same class as the commercially available drug (linezolid) but which showed in early-stage testing more potentiality and less toxicity, MPP said.
 
The drug is currently in clinical development, and despite positive early study results published in 2014, no further development of the treatment has been undertaken, they said.
 
MPP’s Executive Director Greg Perry said in the release that “Faster acting, better therapies to treat TB are a particularly urgent global public health priority. With the exception of two new drugs that have come to market recently, the dearth of new alternatives to decades-old TB drugs contributes to our limited response to the epidemic.”
 
According to the press release, “Johns Hopkins University is granting the MPP an exclusive, royalty-free license covering all countries that currently have patents issued or pending for a combination therapy comprising sutezolid and two additional compounds used to treat TB such as pretomanid, delamanid, bedaquiline, rifampicin and moxifloxacin.”
 
“The patent for the base compound sutezolid expired in August 2014, but the patent for the use of sutezolid in combination therapy for TB—held jointly by Pfizer Inc. and Johns Hopkins University—is valid until August 2029 in the countries in which it was filed,” it said.