Gilead Sciences and the Geneva-based Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) have entered into an agreement allowing manufacturers to produce low-cost versions of the biotech firm's HIV drugs. Gilead's Viread (tenofovir), Emtriva (emtricitabine), cobicistat and elvitegravir, along with a combination of all four called the Quad, will be produced by generics manufacturers in India in return for modest royalties. “This should become a win-win for much of the global HIV-infected community and Gilead,” says John Erickson, CEO of Sequoia Pharmaceuticals of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Cobicistat and elvitegravir are in phase 3, meaning low-cost versions could be available in developing countries immediately after approval. The MPP hopes the deal struck with Gilead, of Foster City, California, will bring other companies on board, and is focused on negotiations with a drawn-up list of pharma companies. For biotechs with phase 1 and 2 products, such as Sangamo BioSciences of Richmond, California, Tobira Therapeutics of S. San Francisco, and Chimerix of Durham, North Carolina, it appears too early to consider the patent-pool scheme; they are more likely to wait until their products are closer to market. According to Erickson, inducing early-stage deals will require a different licensing rationale to avoid devaluing companies' drug intellectual property through limiting its options prematurely. For instance, the MPP or one of its generic partners could become a fully fledged development partner that shares the risks. “Otherwise, aside from optics [public relations], it is difficult to see any benefit to MPP or biotechs for entering into licenses for early-stage drugs,” says Erickson.