Bill Clinton praises India´s generic drug makers for their support in treating HIV/AIDS
India?s generic drug manufacturers have received a large amount of negative press in the last few weeks and it is at times like this that it is important to remind ourselves of the key role these companies play in combating HIV/AIDS by providing affordable, innovative, medications.
13 years ago, at a European Commission medical meeting in Brussels, the CEO of Indian generics drug manufacturer Cipla announced that they would develop a triple-drug antiretroviral combination for the treatment of HIV/AIDS that would cost a fraction of the $12000 USD that Pharmaceutical MNCs were charging per patient per year. Within the next few years Cipla dropped the price, from $800 to $140 per patient per year, which led to worldwide applause. In the years that followed India?s generic drug makers, including Ranbaxy and Dr Reddy?s Laboratories, have provided cheap medications to millions of people, especially those in Africa and Asia. Yesterday, former US president Bill Clinton gave praise to India?s generic drug makers for their ongoing contributions in providing treatment to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Cost reduction and Innovation
India?s generic drug makers have not only strived to provide affordable medication but also innovative measures designed to benefit the patients. Cipla pioneered a three-in-one antiretroviral (ARV) drug, Triomune, which offered optimal efficacy, durability of ARV activity, tolerability and low adverse effects when taken with other drugs. This success of this first-therapy was later overtaken by Duovir-N (Lamivudine, Zidovudine, and Nevirapine) that remains the most widely used ARV on the market, especially in low-resource countries. More recently, in 2010, Cipla took another major step in revolutionizing HIV/AIDS treatment by introducing its “Mother-Baby Pack” in collaboration with UNICEF and other partners. The pack contained the entire range of ARVs that a HIV-infected mother is required to take from the 14th week of pregnancy until the 6th week after delivery. By treating HIV/AIDS for this period of time the Mother-Baby pack prevents the transmission of the virus during pregnancy, delivery, or post-delivery during breast feeding.
The commitment of Cipla, and other generic drug makers in combating HIV/AIDS has saved countless lives and will continue to provide a lifeline to many that suffer all over the globe. Without these innovative efforts, providing treatment for HIV/AIDS would still require a complex regime of countless individual drugs with low efficacy in developing countries where supply chains are fragmented. As the founder of the Clinton Foundation, that has contributed to treating AIDS in the Carribbean, the former President said yesterday “I told myself that never again will I come to India without saying a thank you”.
– Jonathan Mackinnon