Hyderabad-based Aurobindo Pharma has joined Medicines Patent Pool, which may help it expand footprint in the HIV/AIDS treatment market.
Under the agreement, Aurobindo would make a range of AIDS drugs licensed to the pool by Gilead Sciences, the leading maker of HIV drugs.
With this, Aurobindo becomes the first major generics company to become part of an extended exercise to make anti-retrovirals (ARVs) widely available to the poor.
According to sources, this would help Aurobindo record significant volumes in ARVs by selling cheap medicines in many countries.
The Medicines Patent Pool, launched by the UNITAID health financing system and funded by a tax on airline tickets, is aimed at creating a system for patent holders to license technology to makers of cheap generics.
By joining the Pool, Aurobindo would also make use of the provision to sell tenofovir to several countries without paying royalties.
The countries that would now become accessible to Aurobindo include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ukraine and Uruguay.
Aurobindo is already a major player in the ARV market with two of its nine units manufacturing the anti HIV/AIDS drugs. The company has about 18 products in the segment and many of them are already approved by regulators in several countries.
In fact, Gilead has been trying to expand its presence too in the segment either by directly tying up with pharma majors or by allowing the Medicines Patent Pool to provide licences to the drug makers to access the latest R&D in the category.
Gilead has already entered into agreements with four Indian generic drug makers - Hetero Drugs, Matrix Laboratories, Ranbaxy Laboratories and Strides Arcolab — for manufacturing and marketing three of its new HIV drugs.
The three drugs are in the Phase III stage and are expected to come out of trials sometime in the first quarter of next year.
Subsequently, the molecules will go through the approval process.