Merck places children's HIV drug in shared non-profit patent pool

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co has contributed an HIV medicine for children to an international shared patent pool in a move that should speed the development of cheap pediatric formulations for use in poor countries.

The non-profit Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), which aims to persuade leading drug companies to share rights to their products with generic manufacturers, said on Tuesday the deal for Merck's raltegravir would add to the treatment arsenal.

Merck has not previously participated in the scheme. The MPP has signed deals with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences, Roche and ViiV Healthcare, which is majority-owned by GlaxoSmithKline.

Two months ago, MPP signed a license with AbbVie for pediatric versions of two other HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir.

The licensing agreement with Merck means other companies can use raltegravir in pediatric medicines sold in low- and middle-income countries where 98 percent of children with HIV live.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Liisa Tuhkanen and David Clarke)