Tivicay launch in China coincides with access push

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GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has launched HIV-therapy Tivicay (dolutegravir) in China as the country's growing efforts to offer volumes in exchange for lower costs gathers pace, with newer therapies a focus.

The launch coincides with a moved by China's National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) last week to pay for the full cost of HIV/AIDS antiviral therapies for all on a voluntary basis, expanding a policy that granted such access to patients with low immunity levels.

China is keen to expand access to cutting-edge therapies without breaking the bank. To that end, in May, the company announced a negotiated cut of more than half for three patented drugs out of 5 hoped for as part of a pilot effort the NHFPC hopes to expand beyond AstraZeneca's ($AZN) cancer med Iressa (gefitinib), Conmana (icotinib) for lung cancer from Hangzhou-based Betta Pharmaceuticals and hepatitis B therapy Viread (tenofovir), marketed in China by GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and developed by Gilead Sciences ($GILD).

In a press release, GSK said that the company is aligned solidly with the NHFPC effort and the access program for HIV.

“We are committed to working with the government to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS have increased access to medicines, such as Tivicay, given its innovative nature and the benefits it can offer," Hervé Gisserot, senior vice president and general manager, pharmaceuticals and vaccines, GSK China/Hong Kong, said in a statement.

"To achieve this we are ready to consider price-access type arrangements in the same spirit of the recent National Drug Price Negotiation pilot.”

At the start of the year, GSK announced the API of Tivicay will be made in China by Shanghai-based Desano Pharmaceuticals, offering a "competitive supply" for the Medicines Patent Pool countries and China.

GSK CEO Andrew Witty has cited China's push to buy, make, regulate and prescribe drugs in drastically new ways to lower costs as a key driver for the company's global strategy of pursuing volumes in emerging markets.

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