India to make HIV/Aids drugs for Africa. File picture
India to make HIV/Aids drugs for Africa. File picture

JOHANNESURG - Makers of generic HIV/Aids drugs will start churning out millions of pills for Africa containing a state-of-the-art medicine widely used in rich countries.

This after securing a multimillion-dollar guarantee that caps prices at just $75 (R1000) a patient a year. Global health experts hope the deal will help address two looming problems in the HIV epidemic - the rising threat of resistance developing to standard HIV/Aids drugs, and the need for more investment in manufacturing capacity.

Bill Gates’ charitable foundation will guarantee minimum sales volumes of the new combination pills using dolutegravir, a so-called integrase inhibitor that avoids the drug resistance that often develops with older treatments.

Agreement

In return the drugmakers, India-based Mylan Laboratories and Aurobindo Pharma, will agree on the maximum price of about $75 a patient for a year’s supply. The agreement, which will make the treatment available to 92 poor countries, starting in Africa, was formally announced yesterday.

“We need to make that guarantee because (of) the fixed costs of everybody gearing up to make high volume,” Gates said. “That just wasn’t going to happen unless we put forward a very substantial volume guarantee.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s pledge is a central plank of a new partnership - the largest of its kind in global health - that also includes the governments of South Africa and Kenya, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and US, British and UN agencies. 

- REUTERS