February 13, 2012
Talks are underway between the Swiss drug maker Lonza and the government of South Africa to produce HIV medicines in that nation, where 5.6 million people are infected. "This joint venture, named Ketlaphela ["I will survive" in the Sotho language], will establish the first pharmaceutical plant to manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients for antiretroviral medicines in South Africa," said Science Minister Naledi Pandor.
The plant will help control the price of AIDS drugs in South Africa, which currently imports the main ingredients needed. South Africa will invest 1.1 billion rand (US $143 million) in the project, while Lonza will commit 500 million rand (US $65 million), said Pandor.
"Lonza's high Swiss standards, plus their superb track record of establishing and maintaining successful commercial operations in developing countries, make them a valuable and desirable partner," Pandor noted.
On its website, Lonza said discussions are "still in an early stage and nothing has been signed." But talking to media in Cape Town, spokesperson Simon Edwards said the company is "looking forward to a long-term involvement in this project ... and to long-term success."