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International News

South Africa: Glaxo, Boehringer Allow More Copying of AIDS Drugs

December 10, 2003

British-based GlaxoSmithKline Plc and German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim said today they have agreed to allow the widespread manufacture of cheap generic versions of their patented AIDS drugs in South Africa. In an out-of-court settlement with AIDS activists, the companies will grant more licenses to generic firms to produce and import antiretroviral drugs.

The deal comes after South Africa's Competition Commission found the companies guilty in October of anti-competitive behavior over the sale of AIDS drugs and recommended to the Competition Tribunal -- an enforcement body -- that they be fined and required to allow the manufacture of generics. The commission said today it will not fine Glaxo for anti-competitive behavior, and a similar agreement is being discussed with Boehringer.

Activist group Treatment Action Campaign said that under the terms of the deal, the two firms would charge no more than a 5 percent royalty fee on the sales of generic drugs in South Africa.

"It has been a particularly difficult case and we are happy the matter has been resolved. The introduction of generic substitutes should result in a drastic reduction in the prices of antiretroviral drugs," Competition Commissioner Menzi Simelane said.

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In a statement, Glaxo's Senior Vice President Peter Bains said, "We are pleased with the decision."

According to a Glaxo spokesperson, the company -- the world's largest producer of AIDS drugs -- will extend a voluntary license it granted to local firm Aspen Pharmacare in October 2001 for the production of antiretrovirals to other companies. A second firm, Thembalami Pharmaceuticals, has already been offered another license. Glaxo would consider applications for another two possible licenses for producing copies of its drugs AZT and lamivudine. The company said its preference is to award licenses to local producers, but it will consider imports into South Africa if this is not practicable.

Boehringer will grant three licenses for the manufacture and import of nevirapine to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. The first license has already gone to Aspen.

Back to other news for December 10, 2003

Adapted from:
Reuters
12.10.03; Jodie Ginsburg



  
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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.
 


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