University of Minnesota Has ‘No Plans’ to Waive Patent Rights for Ziagen
The University of Minnesota said in a statement released Thursday that it would "welcome a price reduction" on the antiretroviral Ziagen, but "stopped short" of saying it would give up its patent rights to the drug, which the university licenses to drug maker GlaxoSmithKline. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the university said that "nothing in its licensing agreement" with GSK would "prohibit" the drug firm from cutting the price of the AIDS drug, which was developed in part by a University of Minnesota professor. The university did state that it "would welcome a [GSK] price reduction of Ziagen in sub-Saharan Africa ... despite a potential reduction in its royalties." However, Mark Rotenberg, general counsel for the university, said that the university has "no plans" to give up its drug patent, adding, "We don't believe that giving up our royalty ... is going to have much of a public health impact." Rotenberg said that the royalties are used to conduct research and development on new medicines. The University of Minnesota currently receives 5% royalties on sales of Ziagen, which earned the school $11.8 million last year. Rotenberg is slated to meet with GSK officials this week to "clear any hurdles" in the university's licensing agreement that "might stand in the way of reducing the drug's price in South Africa or other developing countries." University of Minnesota students and several AIDS activist groups have lobbied the university to waive its patent rights to Ziagen in South Africa (Lerner, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.