Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Cipla, WHO to Discuss Giving Discounted AIDS Drugs to Developing Countries
Cipla Ltd., the Indian generic drug maker that "startled" the global drug industry earlier this month by
offering discounted AIDS drugs to the medical organization Doctors Without Borders, announced yesterday that it will begin talks "very soon" with the World Health Organization about providing cheap AIDS drugs to developing nations, Reuters/Excite News reports. Cipla Chair Yusuf Hamied said that WHO contacted the firm "late last week" about the drug offer and noted that the company has also received letters from the European Commission wanting to know more about its proposal. "[W]e believe the E.C. can fund international agencies for the purchase of AIDS drugs where required," Hamied said. Cipla offered a triple combination therapy of stavudine, lamivudine and nevirapine to Doctors Without Borders for a "humanitarian price" of $350 per patient per year. The organization will begin distributing the drugs in five nations "very soon," according to Hamied. Cipla has also offered to supply the drugs directly to African governments for $600 per patient per year.
Senegal currently pays $1,008 to $1,821 per patient per year under a deal with the leading multinational drug firms that hold the
patents on the drugs. Cipla uses different manufacturing processes to make generic drugs because Indian patent laws only cover the drug patent holder's manufacturing process and not the drugs themselves. Cipla denied that it is "taking on" the major drug companies' African markets, as Hamied said he is "not interested" in that fight. He also announced that Cipla will supply the triple drug therapy to Indian patients at a "concessional rate." Hamied said, "What is happening today in Africa is likely to happen to
India in 10 years' time," adding that the world needs to "wake up to the reality" that India adds 3,500 HIV cases a day (Shankar, Reuters/Excite News, 2/26).
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