Cipla Announces Plan to Manufacture Three-In-One AIDS Pill
Indian generic drug maker Cipla Ltd. plans to develop a three-in-one AIDS "cocktail" pill that may cause prices of antiretroviral medicines to "fall even further" than they did when Cipla first announced it would supply generic drugs to Doctors Without Borders for $350 per patient per year in February, Reuters Health reports. Cipla Chair Yusuf Hamied told Reuters Health, "We are applying for Indian government permissions to launch three AIDS drugs -- stavudine, nevirapine and lamivudine -- in one tablet. ... We will offer the new combination pill to [Doctors Without Borders], other non-government bodies and governments in general for them to supply free." The new pill, to be called Triomune-LNS, will be the first combination pill of the three drugs, as they are each controlled by three different pharmaceutical companies. GlaxoSmithKline has patented lamivudine, Boehringer Ingelheim holds the patent on nevirapine and Bristol-Myers Squibb controls stavudine. Despite these controls, Cipla is permitted by Indian law to manufacture products under international patent, and Hamied noted, "We expect to launch the new product in India later this year and are in the process of applying for marketing permissions in some African countries, including South Africa, in due course." He added that the three-in-one pill will hopefully increase patient compliance, as patients would only have to "take one pill each in the morning and night, (rather than) three of each drug twice a day." The combination pill will be sold in a box of 720 pills, or one year's dosage. GlaxoSmithKline also markets a combination pill called Trizivir, composed of zidovudine, lamivudine and abacavir (Shankar, Reuters Health, 5/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.