GHANA: Government ploughs ahead with plans to produce AIDS drugs locally
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
ACCRA, 31 August (PLUSNEWS) - A new plant has begun production of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs as part of government plans to expand distribution of the life prolonging treatment for its HIV-positive citizens.
Pharmaceutical company DanAdams - a joint venture between Danpong Pharmaceuticals of Ghana and Adams Pharmaceuticals of China - has begun production of the generic versions of the ARVs from a new plant outside the capital Accra.
Generic drugs are not restricted by patent laws but are identical in content and substantially cheaper than the brand-name drug, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Under Ghanaian law, only the government will be able to buy the generic drugs, which have met standards for distribution set by the state Food and Drugs Board (FDB).
"We are collecting our letter of approval (from the FDB) to officially deal in these drugs in Ghana today," Yaw Adu Gyamfi, Chief Executive officer of DanAdams told IRIN on Tuesday.
The government is currently spending about US $6 million of state funds to provide ARVs to 2,600 patients, according to Gyamfi.
But once the government starts buying the DanAdams drugs, the bill for the same treatments for the same number of people will drop by 45 percent to about US $3.37 million, Gyamfi said.
However, most ARV treatments distributed in Ghana are paid for with money donated by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria which insists on production quality tests by the WHO before setting up a purchase order.
The Global Fund has approved over US $47 million of funds for health projects in Ghana. Over US $14 million of that is to be directed to a programme to accelerate access to prevention, care, support and treatment of all persons affected by HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria with a special HIV/AIDS element.
Edith Annan of the WHO in Ghana told IRIN that the Fund's assessment process had begun, but could take a long time before a conclusion is reached.
"It takes quite some time as it depends on the manufacturer's production quality which can vary from one manufacturer to another," Annan said.
The first assessments of the DanAdams plant will begin in September, said Annan, but she could give no indication when or if Global Fund money would be used to purchase the drugs.