Ugandan President Museveni Commissions Pharmaceutical Plant That Will Produce Antiretrovirals, Antimalarials
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday commissioned a 15-acre pharmaceutical plant in the country that will produce a triple-therapy combination antiretroviral drug, as well as first-line malaria treatments, the New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports. According to New Vision/AllAfrica.com, other African countries -- such as Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa -- have factories that manufacture antiretrovirals but none produces combination therapies (Wendo, New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 10/5).
The new factory, the first of its kind in Uganda, aims to lower the cost of antiretrovirals by reducing import expenses, BBC News reports. Ugandan pharmaceutical importer Quality Chemical Industries and the Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla will produce the medications (BBC News, 10/8). The factory will manufacture the antiretroviral combination therapy Triomune, which contains lamivudine, stavudine and nevirapine. In addition, the factory will produce the first-line antimalarial combination treatment Lumartem, which contains artemisinin and lumefantrin.
According to Emmanuel Katongole, managing director of Quality Chemical Industries, the factory on Monday began trial runs to ensure that factory equipment measures ingredients accurately and produces pills that are uniform in size and concentration. The trial runs are expected to last until November or December, and the factory "should be in position to manufacture for the market" in January 2008, Katongole said.
Katongole added that the factory initially will produce about two million antiretroviral and antimalarial pills daily, which will later increase to six million daily, or 1.8 billion pills annually. The Ugandan government will be the first client to purchase medications from the factory. About 80,000 of the estimated 150,000 to 300,000 Ugandans in need of antiretrovirals currently receive them, Katongole said, adding that the new factory "should enable [the] government to double that number."
The factory will export antiretrovirals to neighboring countries after the Ugandan government has purchased its supply. The countries likely will begin to purchase antiretrovirals from the factory beginning in January, Katongole said.
According to New Vision/AllAfrica.com, African countries beginning in January 2008 will no longer be able to import generic antiretrovirals from India, which has been Uganda's main source of generic antiretrovirals, because of a change in the India's patent laws (New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 10/5).
Leonard Okello of ActionAID International said, "The challenge is to make sure that the production is followed by a good distribution system that makes sure that the drug can reach all corners of the country" (BBC News, 10/8). Jesse Kajimba, Uganda's senior presidential adviser on HIV/AIDS, said that producing antiretrovirals locally could give the country greater independence in determining its supply and ensuring quality control.
Peter Mugyenyi, director of the Joint Clinical Research Centre, added that although local production is the best way to guarantee the availability of antiretrovirals, the factory should aim to produce new antiretroviral combination therapies, such as Atripla (New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 10/5).