AbbVie Inc. is waiving global patent rights to its HIV therapy Kaletra — an antiviral drug being studied as a potential coronavirus treatment, the Financial Times reported.
With AbbVie's decision, generic versions of the drug will be available worldwide, the paper said, citing the Medicines Patent Pool, a non-governmental organization backed by the United Nations. The North Chicago-based pharma giant is the first drugmaker to waive its rights to profit from a drug that could potentially be used in the pandemic, according to the FT.
Kaletra, also known as Aluvia, is a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir approved to treat HIV-1 infection. The drug has patent protection until 2026 in certain areas, the FT said, citing medical database MedsPaL.
AbbVie said March 9 that it will support clinical studies and basic research to determine the antiviral activity, effectiveness and safety of Kaletra against COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. The company's announcement follows unconfirmed media reports in China claiming that its HIV regimen is effective against COVID-19.
However, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 18 found that Kaletra was not effective in treating COVID-19 among 199 Chinese patients, though the authors suggested outcomes might be improved if combined with other antivirals.
As of March 24, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a total of more than 381,000 confirmed cases globally, with over 16,500 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.