This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vivian Xie
4 Apr 2023

Doctors Without Borders demands transparency from GSK on licensing agreements for preventative HIV treatment

GSK has signed licensed agreements with three companies to manufacture generic versions of its preventative HIV medicine for distribution in lower-income countries but calls for increased transparency is putting pressure on the drugmaker. 

British drugmaker and pharmaceutical company GSK has signed three deals with separate companies to allow the manufacturing of generic versions of its HIV prevention medicine, cabotegravir, for use in low-income countries.

 In a statement, GSK’s HIV treatment division ViiV Healthcare waived intellectual property rights with voluntary licenses issued to Aurobindo Pharma, Cipla, and Viatris. The licenses will give the rights to distribute generic versions of cabotegravir, which is currently distributed under the brand name Vocabria. Indian-based drugmaker Cipla will also be given rights to manufacture the injections in India, with plans to expand manufacturing to South Africa. The generic drug will be supplied to 90 countries dependent on regulatory approvals and could be available as an injection to lower-income countries as early as 2026. Plans were announced last July 2022 for GSK to partner with a UN-backed healthcare organisation to bring novel HIV therapies faster and earlier to lower-income nations than previous HIV treatments. 

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) remains the most effective way for an at-risk HIV-negative individual to decrease the risk of potential infection. Until recently, the only available form of PrEP was a once-daily pill, which could undermine patient adherence. An injection once every two months such as cabotegravir would ease this burden and provide a more discreet treatment option. 

The 1990s and early 2000s saw the deaths of millions of individuals in Africa during the HIV/AIDS crisis. Treatments readily available in wealthier countries were unavailable for use across the African continent. Medical NGO Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had been in negotiations with ViiV to ensure an adequate supply of the drug to lower-income nations, however, were unable to confirm or meet the demand. There have been calls for the GSK division to provide increased transparency for cabotegravir’s manufacturing and procurement, which have been met with evasive responses from the drugmaker. In a statement for MSF, Helen Bygrave, a chronic disease advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign, stated that “ViiV should be ashamed: it has a lifesaving HIV prevention drug at its fingertips but is failing to ensure there’s enough available for people who need it. They’re providing no transparency as to where currently available supplies of [cabotegravir] are being used.” 

A spokesperson for GSK responded on their shared ambition with MSF to enable adequate access to the drug, and would plan to update partners such as MSF in the coming weeks: “We are moving at pace to increase capacity to meet the demand.” 


1. GSK licenses companies to make cheap copies of HIV prevention drug [Accessed April 4 2023]  

2. Pharmaceutical company ViiV must provide transparency on HIV prevention drug [Accessed April 4 2023]  

Vivian Xie
Editor - Custom Content

Related News