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Chinese Government Approves Domestic Production of Third Generic Antiretroviral Drug
Shanghai Desano Biopharmaceutical on Tuesday announced that it has received permission from the Chinese government to produce and market domestically a second antiretroviral drug, making a total of three generic drugs approved for domestic manufacture, UPI/Modesto Bee reports. The company now has permission to produce and market both didanosine and stavudine, both patented by U.S.-based drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb. Robert Laverty, a spokesperson for Bristol-Myers, said that the Chinese generics did not violate any of the company's patents in China, and that "[a]s long as the domestic generic companies are in compliance with international law, they are free to manufacture and market" the drugs. Zhang Junjie, a spokesperson for Shanghai Desano, said that the company is also seeking approval for a generic version of the antiretroviral drug nevirapine so that they can offer a less expensive version of three-drug, combination therapy. Zhang said Shanghai Desano's version of triple therapy would cost about $600 per person annually compared to the current cost of $3,600 to $12,000 per person per year. The generic licenses -- the government has also granted a license for a generic version of AZT to another Chinese company -- are part of the Chinese government's overall efforts to reduce health care costs for people with HIV/AIDS. In addition, government officials are considering levying import tariffs on foreign-produced antiretroviral medications. The government estimates that more than one million people in China have the virus, and the United Nations predicts that the country could have more than 10 million HIV-positive people by 2010 if efforts are not made to curtail the spread of the disease (Wade, UPI/Modesto Bee, 9/24).
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