Ugandan Pharmaceutical Begins Production Of Generic Antiretrovirals

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Generic Antiretrovirals

A pharmaceuticalplant in Uganda this week will begin production of genericantiretroviral drugs following an order from the Ugandan governmentfor drugs worth 17 billion Ugandan shillings, or about $10 million,the EastAfrican Business Weekreports (Etyang, East African BusinessWeek, 1/28).

UgandanPresident Yoweri Museveni in October 2007 commissioned the 15-acrepharmaceutical plant, which will produce triple-therapy combinationantiretroviral and first-line malaria treatments. Ugandanpharmaceutical importer Quality Chemical Industries and Indianpharmaceutical company Ciplawill produce the drugs. The factory will manufacture theantiretroviral combination therapy Triomune, which containslamivudine, stavudine and nevirapine. In addition, the factory willproduce the first-line antimalarial combination treatment Lumartem,which contains artemisinin and lumefantrin (KaiserDaily HIV/AIDS Report,11/26/07).


According to the BusinessWeek, Uganda's Ministryof Health and othergovernment agencies are covering the cost of the initial batch ofdrugs with 8 billion shillings, or about $4.7 million, and 9 billionshillings, or about $5.3 million, respectively, for the firstquarter. The government is expected to spend 68 billion shillings, orabout $40 million, during the first year of the project. Donororganizations also will cover a portion of the cost, Emmanuel Otaala,minister of state for primary health care, said. He added that thegovernment has inserted an HIV/AIDS category into its budget to coverits portion of the cost and to fund other HIV/AIDSservices.

Emmanuel Katongole, managing director of the plant,said the cost for a monthly supply of antiretrovirals produced at theplant will be about 30% less expensive than imported drugs currentlyavailable in the country, adding that the final cost will be $9 for aone month's supply. Katongole said the plant initially will "focuson addressing the problems of scarcity and affordability of drugs"in an effort to expand antiretroviral access.

During theproject's first phase, the plant will produce two millionantiretroviral and malaria drugs daily. The plant initially willprovide antiretrovirals only to the Ugandan government but will thenbegin supplying drugs to the private sector and other Africancountries. The plant is expected to begin exporting drugs to Rwandaand Tanzania by the end of 2008, Katongole said.

According tothe Business Week,about 100,000 Ugandans currently have access to no-costantiretroviral treatment, but about 238,000 people in the country areexpected to need the drugs by 2012. In 2005, about 42% of people inneed of antiretrovirals had access to them, according to statistics(East African Business Week,1/28).

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