Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Bristol-Myers Squibb To License Antiretroviral Reyataz to Generic Drug Companies in South Africa, India
Bristol-Myers Squibb on Wednesday plans to announce that it will license its antiretroviral drug Reyataz royalty-free to two generic drug companies in South Africa and India, the Wall Street Journal reports. The deal would enable Aspen Pharmacare of South Africa and India's Emcure Pharmaceuticals to produce and sell the protease inhibitor Reyataz, generically known as atazanavir, in sub-Saharan Africa (Wall Street Journal, 2/15). Under the agreement, the two generic drug companies can set the price for the drug, which is used in second-line HIV/AIDS drug treatments (McNeil, New York Times, 2/15). BMS also plans to provide technical training to the two companies to show them how to manufacture, test, package, store and handle the drug's active ingredient (Agovino, AP/Forbes, 2/15). Currently, second-line treatments in Africa cost between $3,000 and $6,000 annually per patient, compared with $200 for first-line treatment (New York Times, 2/15). People taking first-line antiretroviral treatment often develop resistance within the first year and must switch to second-line treatments, the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 2/15). According to people familiar with the agreement, it is one of the first involving a drug used in second-line HIV/AIDS treatment (Wall Street Journal, 2/15). Under World Health Organization guidelines, atazanavir is best taken with a booster drug, usually Abbott Laboratories' ritonavir, according to the New York Times. Because ritonavir must be refrigerated, some experts say the BMS deal puts pressure on Abbott to make a heat-stable version of ritonavir (New York Times, 2/15).
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