SA firms win big in HIV drug contract


Johannesburg - South African drugmakers are the big winners in a $667 million contract to supply HIV drugs awarded this week by the government of Africa's largest economy, with three local companies taking nearly 60 percent of the deal.

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An Indian HIV-infected women poses with her antiretroviral drugs at her home in New Delhi.

South Africa on Thursday awarded the two-year contract to 12 domestic and international firms to supply life-prolonging drugs to treat its biggest single health problem.

Aspen Pharmacare, Africa's largest generic drugs maker, has won 20.6 percent of the contract, while smaller rival Adcock Ingram was awarded 14 percent, the health department said in a statement.

Cipla Medpro, the drugmaker in which India's Cipla has offered to buy a majority stake, was awarded 9 percent, the government said.

A Cipla Medpro spokesman said its share of the contract rises to 24.5 percent when including wholly owned unit Medpro Pharmaceutica.

Medpro Pharmaceutica, which won 15.5 percent of the contract, tendered a separate bid from that of its parent.

Medpro Pharmaceutica will import the drugs from India, while Cipla Medpro is a local manufacturer, the spokesman said.

Cipla Medpro has a longstanding supply deal with India's Cipla.

That deal was spearheaded by former Cipla Medpro Chief Executive Jerome Smith, who quit last month following charges of gross misconduct for approving pay rises and bonuses for himself without board approval. - Reuters

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