Merck Licenses Antiretroviral Drug Efavirenz to South African Pharmaceutical Company Thembalami
Drug company Merck announced on Tuesday that it has agreed to grant a nonexclusive, royalty-free license to South African drug company Thembalami Pharmaceuticals to produce and sell a generic version of its antiretroviral drug efavirenz, the AP/Springfield News Sun reports. Merck sells efavirenz under the brand-name Stocrin at a not-for-profit price to countries in the Southern African Development Community. The license covers both public and private sector sale of the drug in SADC member countries, and Thembalami will donate a portion of its proceeds from efavirenz sales to the MSD Msizi Cares Trust -- an organization that supports the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Thembalami CEO Sotse Segoneco also will become a member of the organization's board of trustees (AP/Springfield News Sun, 7/13). Merck said it issued the license to speed access to antiretroviral drugs in South Africa and other countries affected by HIV/AIDS, according to Reuters (Reuters, 7/13). About 20,000 HIV-positive people in South Africa are taking the drug and under the government's national drug plan, the number is expected to grow to 50,000 by the end of the year, South Africa's Business Day reports (Cohen, Business Day, 7/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.