China would receive cut-price supplies of GlaxoSmithKline's new HIV drug Tivicay, after Shanghai-based Desano Pharmaceuticals became an additional manufacturer of the medicine's active ingredient under an agreement.
The collaboration between GSK's HIV unit ViiV Healthcare and Desano marks an improvement in the business climate for the UK drugmaker, which was slapped 3 billion yuan ($484 million) fine in September for bribing Chinese doctors (See: China accuses GSK of bribery, raising prices and tax fraud).
At the time, GSK said it would boost access to its medicines in the country with expansion of the local production and adoption of flexible pricing. However, according to a ViiV spokesman, the negotiations with Desano predated this commitment.
With the agreement announced today by ViiV, Desano would manufacture the active pharmaceutical ingredient for Tivicay, or dolutegravir, would add to the GSK/ViiV supply chain for onward sale in China and other developing countries.
According to ViiV, the move would allow it to offer a "competitive" supply of finished product, without specifying the scale of price discount.
The agreement strengthens ViiV Healthcare's commitment to improve access to its treatments for people living with HIV, especially in countries hardest hit by the disease.
''This manufacturing agreement with Desano for dolutegravir is a significant achievement to facilitate access to our medicines. With our recent agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool and our other access initiatives this deal is aligned with our ongoing commitment to improve access to our medicines in countries where the need is greatest.'' said Dr Dominique Limet, chief executive officer, ViiV Healthcare.
Based in Shanghai, Desano is a high quality manufacturer, and well suited to partner with ViiV Healthcare.
ViiV Healthcare and Desano are also exploring further options for future manufacture of finished drug product and fixed dose combinations of dolutegravir with APIs.
''As one of the leading Chinese pharmaceutical companies dedicated to developing, manufacturing and supplying antiretroviral (ARV) APIs for HIV and finished pharmaceutical products, Desano is honored to cooperate with ViiV Healthcare to manufacture a high quality, competitive supply of dolutegravir and its combinations,'' said Ying Kan, president of Desano Pharmaceuticals.
''We believe that working together with ViiV Healthcare we can better contribute to the global goal of making treatment options available to patients across the globe.''