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Ugandan, Indian Pharmaceutical Companies Produce Generic Antiretroviral Drugs

Armen Hareyan's picture

GenericAntiretroviral Drugs

The Financial Times on Tuesday examined a"groundbreaking" joint project between the Ugandan pharmaceuticalimporter Quality Chemical Industries and Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla toproduce generic antiretroviral drugs (Jopson, Financial Times,11/20).

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in October commissioned a 15-acrepharmaceutical plant in the country that will produce a triple-therapycombination antiretroviral, as well as first-line malaria treatments. QCI andCipla will produce the medications.

The factory will manufacture the antiretroviral combination therapy Triomune,which contains lamivudine, stavudine and nevirapine. In addition, the factorywill produce the first-line antimalarial combination treatment Lumartem, whichcontains artemisinin and lumefantrin (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/9). Triomune currently costsabout $40 per month in Uganda,according to health ministry official Elizabeth Namagala. Emmanuel Katongole,managing director of QCI, said the price could be reduced by 30% to 35%, whichwould increase access to antiretrovirals within Ugandaand across East and Central Africa.

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According to the Times, the "venture is full of promise"because the factory likely will decrease the cost of antiretrovirals and otherdrugs "by reducing transport and customs costs and creating economies ofscale." In addition, QCI and Cipla "hope the factory will have anequally profound commercial impact by spreading knowledge and acting as a firststep towards Africa developing apharmaceuticals base of its own."

About two-thirds of people in need of antiretrovirals in the country do nothave access to the drugs, according to the Times. "Evenbefore we expand coverage, we need to maintain the people" already onantiretrovirals, Namagala said, adding, "That's why it's so important thatprices come down." Amar Lulla, managing director of Cipla, said thecompany has "offered the technology" to QCI, adding that Ciplabelieves "all developing countries should become self-sufficient in drugmanufacturing" (Financial Times, 11/20).

According to Katongole, the factory initially will produce about two millionantiretroviral and antimalarial pills daily, which will later increase to sixmillion daily, or 1.8 billion pills annually. The Ugandan government will bethe first client to purchase medications from the factory. The factory willexport antiretrovirals toneighboring countries beginning in January 2008 after the Ugandan governmenthas purchased its supply (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/9).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reportis published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. KaiserFamily Foundation.