Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Cipla Sees Exports of AIDS Drugs Increase Following Discount Offer
Cipla Ltd., the Indian pharmaceutical firm that "shook" the global market last February when it offered to sell a generic three-drug AIDS therapy to Doctors Without Borders for an annual cost of $350 per patient, said on Tuesday that it is exporting the drugs to a "dozen" countries, including Nigeria, Algeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Cambodia, and is in talks to expand its sales to other African and Southeast Asian nations, Reuters reports. Sales of AIDS medications could increase to more than $20 million a year if the South African government approves the company's request to export its drugs there, Cipla Chair Yusuf Hamied said. He did not reveal the company's current sales figures for HIV/AIDS medications, but said that it is "gratifying that
anti-AIDS medicines are finally beginning to reach those who need them desperately." The three-drug combination contains lamivudine, nevirapine and stavudine, whose patents are owned by GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer-Ingelheim and Bristol-Myers Squibb, respectively. Indian patent law applies only to the process used to make drugs, thereby allowing generic drug makers like Cipla to produce patented medicines by retooling the production process. Cipla's offer, about one-thirtieth the U.S. price for the drugs, prompted some drug makers such as Bristol-Myers and Merck to offer developing nations additional price reductions (Shankar, Reuters, 9/4).
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