Chinese Company Begins Distributing Generic Form of Anti-AIDS "Cocktail"
January 28, 2003
Today, the Chinese company Desano Shanghai began distributing generic drugs that make up a potent AIDS cocktail in Henan, a central province where AIDS has been rampant as a result of unsafe blood buying. Trucks carried hundreds of thousands of doses of dd1 and d4t to the area. This is the first time a low-cost AIDS treatment has been available in China.Adapted from:
Desano spokesperson Zhang Junjie said the central health authorities in Beijing financed the drugs, which cost 3,600-4,600 yuan (US$435-560) per patient per year, approximately one-twentieth the cost of imported name-brand drugs. Beijing gave Desano permission to produce the generics in September 2002. Bristol-Myers Squibb holds the patent in China for dd1. However, the pharmaceutical firm said Desano's powder version of the drug does not violate the patent, which applies to dd1 in tablet form.
Critics have decried the Chinese government's belated response to the AIDS problem. After years of underestimating the disease's toll, the government last year announced that more than 1 million people in China are infected. That number could reach 10 million by the end of the decade.
Reports of widespread infection in rural areas of Henan may have pressured the government into action. In that region, illegal buyers called "bloodheads" reused dirty needles when collecting blood from poor farmers.
Zhang said Desano will produce enough drugs to supply the cocktail to a half-million people every year. Another manufacturer in northern China has begun producing a generic version of AZT, the patents for which have recently expired. Ten more Chinese companies have applied for permission to make generic versions of other AIDS drugs with expired patents, according to the government. More drugs might be available by the end of this year.
01.28.03; Martin Fackler
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.