Local company undertakes to produce antiretrovirals
Tuesday 29 June 2004
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UGANDA: Local company undertakes to produce antiretrovirals

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

KAMPALA, 5 November (PLUSNEWS) - Uganda's estimated 100,000 people living with AIDS, who are in urgent need of antiretrovirals (ARVs) but cannot afford them could soon have access to locally produced ARVs at a cost of less than 50 US cents per day, according to a Ugandan company planning to produce the drugs.

The Kampala-based Quality Chemicals (QC), which for the past three months has been importing generic ARVs from Indian-based Cipla Pharmaceuticals, told PlusNews on Wednesday that it planned to set up a factory to manufacture ARVs before the end of next year.

"We are working closely with the Ministry of Health and [the] Uganda AIDS Commission to have this facility in place," the QC managing director, Emmanuel Katongole, told PlusNews. "Our proposal is still being negotiated with Cipla. What is important is that everyone – us, the patients, the government, the aid agencies, and our suppliers in Cipla – wants this to happen. We should be able to find a way."

He said both companies were examining the project's commercial prospects with a view to slashing the price as low as low as possible, while still retaining some profit.

He added that the project was needed not just to cut the price of the drugs, but in order to make sure that ARVs were "continuously available, and can be planned for, not subject to sporadic imports".

But AIDS campaigners have urged caution over such claims, warning that the move towards producing ARVs in Uganda could take longer than either the companies or the Ugandan government are willing to admit.

"There are a lot of things that have to be done before you can start producing drugs in a factory," said Rosette Mutambi of the Coalition for Health Promotion and Social Development. "I don’t see how they will get this up so fast. I suspect this is partly a publicity exercise for the company. In the meantime, we need to look at getting our hands on cheaper drugs and more of them."

At the 11th conference of the Global Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS, which took place in Kampala last week, participants unveiled a bid by the Clinton Foundation which, they said, had managed to procure ARVs at between US $120 and $140 for a year’s treatment. Meanwhile, in an interview with PlusNews, the Ugandan government made its first commitment to a proactive policy of importing generic ARVs.

The price of ARVs in Uganda recently fell to less than a dollar a day ($24 per month), following the signing of the Doha 2001 international trade agreement, which allowed Cipla to export the drugs to Uganda through QC.


Recent UGANDA Reports
Distribution of free anti-AIDS drugs begins,  14/Jun/04
Companies slow to respond to epidemic,  29/Dec/03
Programme launched to boost ARV treatment capacity,  5/Dec/03
New deadline for free anti-retrovirals,  1/Dec/03
Gov't commits to buying generic antiretrovirals,  27/Oct/03
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
International HIV/AIDS Alliance

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.


PlusNews is produced under the banner of RHAIN, the Southern African Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network. RHAIN's members currently include:

  • IRIN
  • Inter Press Service (IPS)
  • Health Systems Trust
  • Health & Development Networks
  • GTZ/Afronets

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