Ugandan Pharmaceutical Plant Begins Production of Generic Antiretrovirals
A pharmaceutical plant in Uganda this week will begin production of generic antiretroviral drugs following an order from the Ugandan government for drugs worth 17 billion Ugandan shillings, or about $10 million, the East African Business Week reports (Etyang, East African Business Week, 1/28).
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in October 2007 commissioned the 15-acre pharmaceutical plant, which will produce triple-therapy combination antiretroviral and first-line malaria treatments. Ugandan pharmaceutical importer Quality Chemical Industries and Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla will produce the drugs. 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, 11/26/07).
According to the Business Week, Uganda's Ministry of Health and other government agencies are covering the cost of the initial batch of drugs with 8 billion shillings, or about $4.7 million, and 9 billion shillings, or about $5.3 million, respectively, for the first quarter. The government is expected to spend 68 billion shillings, or about $40 million, during the first year of the project. Donor organizations also will cover a portion of the cost, Emmanuel Otaala, minister of state for primary health care, said. He added that the government has inserted an HIV/AIDS category into its budget to cover its portion of the cost and to fund other HIV/AIDS services.
Emmanuel Katongole, managing director of the plant, said the cost for a monthly supply of antiretrovirals produced at the plant will be about 30% less expensive than imported drugs currently available in the country, adding that the final cost will be $9 for a one month's supply. Katongole said the plant initially will "focus on addressing the problems of scarcity and affordability of drugs" in an effort to expand antiretroviral access.
During the project's first phase, the plant will produce two million antiretroviral and malaria drugs daily. The plant initially will provide antiretrovirals only to the Ugandan government but will then begin supplying drugs to the private sector and other African countries. The plant is expected to begin exporting drugs to Rwanda and Tanzania by the end of 2008, Katongole said.
According to the Business Week, about 100,000 Ugandans currently have access to no-cost antiretroviral treatment, but about 238,000 people in the country are expected to need the drugs by 2012. In 2005, about 42% of people in need of antiretrovirals had access to them, according to statistics (East African Business Week, 1/28).