Financial Times Examines ‘Groundbreaking’ Project Between Ugandan, Indian Pharmaceutical Companies
The Financial Times on Tuesday examined a "groundbreaking" joint project between the Ugandan pharmaceutical importer Quality Chemical Industries and Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla to produce generic antiretroviral drugs (Jopson, Financial Times, 11/20).
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in October commissioned a 15-acre pharmaceutical plant in the country that will produce a triple-therapy combination antiretroviral, as well as first-line malaria treatments. QCI and Cipla will produce the medications.
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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/9). Triomune currently costs about $40 per month in Uganda, according to health ministry official Elizabeth Namagala. Emmanuel Katongole, managing director of QCI, said the price could be reduced by 30% to 35%, which would increase access to antiretrovirals within Uganda and across East and Central Africa.
According to the Times, the "venture is full of promise" because the factory likely will decrease the cost of antiretrovirals and other drugs "by reducing transport and customs costs and creating economies of scale." In addition, QCI and Cipla "hope the factory will have an equally profound commercial impact by spreading knowledge and acting as a first step towards Africa developing a pharmaceuticals base of its own."
About two-thirds of people in need of antiretrovirals in the country do not have access to the drugs, according to the Times. "Even before we expand coverage, we need to maintain the people" already on antiretrovirals, Namagala said, adding, "That's why it's so important that prices come down." Amar Lulla, managing director of Cipla, said the company has "offered the technology" to QCI, adding that Cipla believes "all developing countries should become self-sufficient in drug manufacturing" (Financial Times, 11/20).
According to Katongole, 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. The factory will export antiretrovirals to neighboring countries beginning in January 2008 after the Ugandan government has purchased its supply (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/9).