Stories and Viewpoints
Growing our global HIV portfolio with expanded U.S. offering
April 8, 2021
One of the most effective interventions in public health is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV. When a person takes PrEP as prescribed, their risk of getting HIV from sex is reduced significantly. Unfortunately, of the 1.2 million Americans recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to take preventative therapy, just under one in five are using it.,
Advocates have long argued that the significant list price of branded PrEP may be playing a role. Rochelle Walensky, now director of the CDC, wrote last year, “high expenditures for PrEP likely hinder scale-up and undermine PrEP’s promise.” To help address the need for more accessible options, Viatris is proud to offer a generic form of a PrEP treatment in the U.S. with the goal of expanding access for the at-risk population.
This milestone represents just the latest step in Viatris’ role as a leader in creating access to PrEP around the world. We were the first manufacturer to launch a quality-assured version of the medicine now used for PrEP, by two and a half years, for patients in low- and lower-middle income countries where over 95% of new infections occur. We also have been supplying PrEP to the Australian and New Zealand national health programs for several years, and today stand as the largest supplier to both. In England, we were the sole supplier to the National Health Service’s PrEP trial for the duration of the trial which ended in October 2020.
Additionally, we are focused on ways to expand access to PrEP among at-risk women and adolescent girls, who are far less likely to take preventative therapy. Globally, an estimated 1.7 million people each year acquire an HIV infection, including over 800,000 women. With support from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we have launched an initiative to develop a dual-purpose pill combining two daily preventative therapies.
Mitchell Warren leads AVAC, an organization that advocates for and tracks data regarding PrEP adoption worldwide. “With 1.7 million people around the world newly infected with HIV each year, providing people with prevention options is critical to ending the epidemic,” he comments.
“It’s been a pleasure to partner with Viatris over the past decade to find ways to increase access, whether that be through reducing the cost through the launch of generic products or innovative next generation technologies that we are exploring together.”
Our work in PrEP is only part of the way Viatris has been a leader in the global fight against HIV. We are the world’s largest supplier of HIV treatments by volume, reaching over 40% of all patients on treatment for HIV around the world and 60% of pediatric patients. Since 2009, we have been first-to-market for over 40% of new products approved under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s PEPFAR program for treatments intended for HIV patients overseas, including six new products in the past four years alone.
Within the U.S., Viatris has similarly been a leader in finding ways to reduce costs and increase access to HIV therapies. The cost of HIV to the U.S. health system is not small: antiretrovirals are the fifth-highest driver of non-discounted drug spending and cost the federal government over $28 billion a year. To help address this, in 2018, we launched the first low-cost branded HIV treatments in 2018, at list prices 40% lower than those of competing innovator products. These products complement our existing U.S. portfolio of eight generic HIV options.
Despite the tremendous progress, there is so much more to be done. Every year, about 1.5 million people around the globe become infected with HIV, including over 35,000 Americans. At Viatris, we are already making significant inroads to address this global need, and we plan to do much more.
 Physician’s Weekly. Is PrEP Ultimately Too Pricey for Widespread Prevention? Jan. 4, 2021.
 UNAIDS Global HIV & AIDS Statistics. 2020 Fact Sheet.
 CDC Fact Sheet. HIV Incidence: Estimated Annual Infections in the U.S., 2014-2018