Johnson & Johnson To Grant License To International Partnership for Microbicides for Experimental MicrobicideJohnson & Johnson on Monday at the Microbicides Conference 2004 in London announced it has granted royalty-free rights to the International Partnership for Microbicides for an experimental microbicide originally developed by J&J subsidiary Tibotec Pharmaceuticals, the Financial Times reports (Dyer, Financial Times, 3/29). Microbicides include a range of products such as gels, films, sponges and other products that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Although HIV is transmitted primarily through heterosexual intercourse in much of Africa and Asia, no female-controlled HIV prevention method currently is widely available (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/24). The drug, known as TMC-120, is the first potential microbicide to specifically target HIV in a manner similar to that of antiretroviral drugs, according to the Wall Street Journal (Windham, Wall Street Journal, 3/29). Tibotec initially had developed TMC-120 as an antiretroviral drug but has since produced the compound in gel form for use as a microbicide. The company has completed early stage clinical trials of the drug, and IPM under the agreement will conduct the remaining trials necessary for regulatory approval, which could cost between $50 million and $100 million. If the drug reaches the market, Tibotec would have the right to market it in developed countries but would be required to pay a royalty to IPM. IPM Research Director Mark Mitchnick said that the group had "high hopes" for the "highly potent compound" because it is cheap to produce and chemically stable, according to the Times (Financial Times, 3/29). If the trials are successful, the product could be on the market by 2010, the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 3/29).
MPR's "Marketplace Morning Report" on Monday reported on the Johnson & Johnson and IPM agreement ("Marketplace Morning Report," MPR, 3/29). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.