ECUO urges Merck to make Raltegravir accessible

isentress logoEast Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO) urged an international pharmaceutical company Merck forward to include a voluntary license for the adult form of Raltegravir into agreement with Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). ECUO assessed the needs in Raltegravir (commercial name — Isentress) in 14 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA). The review revealed that Raltegravir is being prescribed and given to only 56 persons (!).
The main reason for such a low number of cases of Raltegravir usage is due to its high cost. For example, in 2015 the price of a single Raltegravir tablet through the procurement mechanism of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Armenia was 18.1 US dollar, Belarus — 13.2 dollars, and in Georgia — 14.11. The lack of information and experience on its usage doesn’t make this drug popular among doctors and patients as well.
In conditions of transition from the GF drug procurement to the governmental funding, a high price leads in fact to the patients being transferred to cheaper drugs. The similar scenario happened in Belarus where 28 people previously were treated with Raltegravir purchased with the GF money, and during the transition to the governmental funding those patients were transferred to Dolutegravir which is much cheaper.
«Considering tendencies of rejecting the purchases of Raltegravir with the funds of state budgets, considering the reduction of the already very low level of Raltegravir usage as well as the high price of the drug and the presence of agreements with MPP on the voluntary licensing of pediatric formulation, ECUO hopes Merck will include the adult form of Raltegravir into the agreement with MPP and will enable the access to treatment for people living with HIV in EECA», — commented the situation Vladimir Zhovtyak, the ECUO President.
The assessment of needs in Raltegravir (commercial name — Isentress) was conducted in 14 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Estonia.
The survey was conducted by interviewing experts among doctors involved in the HIV infection treatment, and interviewing patient communities. The information on the number of patients receiving Raltegravir and future plans for procurement of the drug was also collected from the AIDS centers.
The survey revealed that Raltegravir is being given to extremely limited number of patients. The total number of adults being treated with Raltregravir in 12 countries of the EECA region1 by the end of 2015 does not reach 60 (56). There are no plans to any dramatic increase in the number of people receiving Raltegravir in 2016 as well.
1 Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Estonia