Indian Drugmaker Says It Will Offer World’s Lowest Price on Triple-Therapy AIDS ‘Cocktail’
Indian drugmaker Aurobindo Pharma announced yesterday that it will offer a triple-therapy drug "cocktail" of stavudine, nevirapine and lamivudine for $295 per patient per year, "possibly the lowest price in the world," Agence France-Presse reports. The offer is open to "anyone either in the private market or government agencies or charities," P.V. Ramprasad Reddy, Aurobindo's managing director, said, adding that the company is selling the drug "at an almost break-even price" as a "service to humanity and not a profit-making exercise." The company is in the process of registering the drugs in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Brazil and has already received approval from South African officials for drug-production facilities, Reddy said. Although Aurobindo only began to manufacture AIDS drugs three months ago, the company is prepared to offer the reduced prices because it makes all of the drugs' raw ingredients. "We are very strong in the raw material technology and make our profits in producing bulk drugs," Reddy said. Rival Indian drugmaker Cipla "shook" the pharmaceutical industry in February by offering the same triple-combination for $350 per patient per year compared to the U.S. price of $10,000 to $12,000 per patient per year. The patents on the three drugs are held by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Boehringer Ingelheim and GlaxoSmithKline respectively. Indian patent law only protects the process by which a drug is formulated and not the final product itself, allowing companies to produce generic forms of drugs by slightly altering the process. Reddy said he "expect[s]" a WHO team to study Aurobindo's proposal and inspect its facilities soon (Agence France-Presse, 6/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.