JSE Securities Exchange listed pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare (APN) has entered into an agreement with the US-based Clinton Foundation for the manufacture of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines.
Former US President Bill Clinton announced in New York that his Foundation has reached an agreement with Aspen and selected other leading multinational generic drug manufacturers on a major reduction in the price of HIV/Aids medicine.
As a result, it will be easier to make life-saving drugs widely available to people with HIV/Aids in the developing world, Aspen said in a statement on Friday.
ARVs supplied by these companies have been certified to be of high quality by the World Health Organisation and the Medicines Control Council of South Africa (MCC).
This agreement will allow the delivery of life-saving medicines to people who desperately need them, Clinton said.
It represents a big breakthrough in our efforts to begin treatment programmes in places where, until now, there has been virtually no medicine, and therefore no hope.
Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive said: As Africa's largest generics manufacture, this agreement further endorses the Group's quality manufacturing, scientific and development capabilities, placing Aspen in a league with the leading international generic pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Aspen has continually stated its commitment to contributing toward the fight against the HIV/Aids pandemic, and this was recently evidenced by the launch of Aspen Stavudine - the first generic ARV developed and manufactured in Africa, Saad said.
This initial ARV demonstrates Aspen's commitment to healthcare in southern African and underlines the scientific and manufacturing capabilities that exist within the country at Aspen's Port Elizabeth based research and production facilities.
He added that Aspen is presently in the process of enhancing its manufacturing facilities with the addition of a new multi-million rand oral solid dosage manufacturing facility to service both domestic and offshore markets.
The agreement covers ARVs delivered to people in Africa and the Caribbean where the Clinton Foundation is working with governments and organisations to set up country-wide integrated care, treatment and prevention programs.
Under the Clinton Foundation agreement, the price of one of the commonly used triple drug therapy combinations will be available for less than US$140 per person per yea - or 36-38 cents per person per day - a reduction of one- third to one-half in the current price of drugs in the developing world, said Clinton.
Saad said Aspen's ARV offering should be bolstered shortly by the addition of Didanosine, Lamivudine, Zidovudine, the Lamivudine/Zidovudine combination and Nevirapine which have been submitted to the MCC for registration.
These additional licenses were made available to Aspen through arrangements with Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline and Boehringer Ingelheim.
As a result of the voluntary licenses secured, Aspen infringes no patent regulations.
The Clinton Foundation has been working with the companies on this agreement over the course of the past nine months, focusing on ways to reduce their costs and scale up production of the so-called triple drug cocktails, which can substantially extend the lives of people living with Aids and help prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. ( Source: I-Net Bridge, Business Day 24 October 2003)