MSF, trying to secure supplies of ViiV's Apretude, calls out new clauses in purchasing contract

As GSK’s ViiV Healthcare looks to widen the reach of its HIV franchise, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been working to secure access to the company's long-acting HIV prevention drug, Apretude, for more than a year.

Now, the organization is airing grievances about the negotiation process with an open letter to ViiV's executive team. MSF is calling on the company to take out what it says are problematic new amendments to the proposed purchase agreement.

Since last June, MSF has been stuck in contract negotiations with ViiV for Apretude, according the letter from Sidney Wong, executive co-director of MSF’s access campaign, and Philip Aruna, team leader for MSF’s southern Africa region.

The sides almost reached a deal in December, but ViiV subsequently changed the terms because of supply limitations, Wong and Aruna wrote. 

Thanks to last-minute edits that deviate from standard MSF purchase agreements, the new contract more closely resembles a nondisclosure agreement, the two MSF officials said.

Specifically, the new clauses require factors such as pricing to remain confidential, MSF says. The proposed deal also allows ViiV to easily exit the supply arrangement, according to the MSF officials.

MSF is asking ViiV to remove those clauses and proceed with negotiations by the end of the month.

ViiV is currently “working closely” on contract negotiations with MSF to enable access to Apretude “as quickly as possible,” a company spokesperson told Fierce Pharma over email. The company remains “committed to serving our partners,” the spokesperson added.

MSF is a global organization that aims to provide medical care to people around the world who are caught in crises. The group has been a frequent critic of pharmaceutical companies. In April, it pushed Johnson & Johnson to allow wider access to its tuberculosis drug Sirturo. In addition, the group has previously blasted GSK and Pfizer for vaccine prices.

Meanwhile, ViiV last July inked a separate deal with the Medicines Patent Pool to allow certain generic manufacturers rights to produce Apretude copycats in 90 lower-income countries.