Johnson & Johnson's subsidiary Tibotec has granted multiple non-exclusive licenses for a new HIV-AIDS treatment to generic manufacturers including Hetero Drugs Ltd, Matrix Laboratories Ltd from India and Aspen Pharmacare from South Africa. The drug in question, rilpivirine hydrochloride (TMC278) is still pending approval however. Tibotec would recieve 2-5% of what is received for the pills. The press release by Tibotec is available here.
The licensing allows the Indian generic companies to manufacture, market and distribute TMC278 in Least Developed Countries, Sub-Saharan Africa and India, and allows Aspen to regions of Sub-Saharan Africa including South Africa. (Image below taken from here. Darker shades reflect areas of higher populations of AIDS patients)
However, is this a small benefit made at the cost of sacrificing a bigger benefit? As KEI points out this means that almost all of Latin America, all of North Africa and several countries in Asia including Thailand, Malaysia and Pakistan will not be covered by this deal. This multi-license deal by Tibotec also reflects a bypassing of the Medicines Patent Pool which aims to obtain open licenses for the development of HIV-AIDS medicines in all developing countries, despite requests from the Medicines Patent Pool, as well as from civil societies for Tibotec to join the MPP voluntarily, and to conduct negotiations about licensing transparently and inclusive of all developing countries. MPP had requested a reply from Tibotec by Jan 31st, and this move by Tibotec on Jan 27th makes it seem quite unlikely that Tibotec would join the patent pool. For more on this, see the post by KEI.