Cipla Medpro: The first company to pioneer bringing down the cost of ARVs to R15 a day

Cipla Medpro: The first company to pioneer bringing down the cost of ARVs to R15 a day

None shall be denied ARV treatment

With its life-saving treatment costing less than R15 per day, Cipla has made ARVs accessible to over a million HIV/AIDS patients across the world.

The high cost of ARV treatment in the past (often over R15000 per month per patient) meant that it was beyond reach for millions of patients around the world.

This was, in effect, a death sentence for many HIV/AIDS patients in developing countries.

In the year 2000, Cipla, a socially conscious generic pharmaceutical company from India, changed the face of HIV/AIDS treatment by bringing several low-cost antiretrovirals to the market. The first one was Zidovudine, which retailed at one tenth of the cost of ARVs, then in use. In 2001, Cipla introduced the world’s first ever recommended 3-in-1 fixed dose combination (Stavudine + Lamivudine + Nevirapine) to fight HIV.

This triple therapy anti-retroviral cocktail was easier for patients to stick to, decreased the number of tablets that had to be taken, and was available at less than one dollar (R15) a day. This cut the cost of ARV treatment by 75%, making effective treatment a reality for many patients in developing countries.

Over the years, Cipla has developed over 15 single and combination medicines that revolutionized HIV therapy. The company has launched seven ‘world-firsts’ for adults and five for children.

The products for babies and children with HIV/AIDS include 3-in-1 paediatric formulations. There is also the Mother-Baby Pack which contains a whole range of ARVs to prevent mother-to-child transmission during childbirth.

No other company in the world has a wider range of ARV products approved by the World Health Organization. The ARVs in the Cipla stable cover 70 – 80% of available anti-AIDS drugs and are supplied to more than 115 countries worldwide. They also supply several international aid agencies, including UNICEF, UNITAID, The Clinton Foundation and MSF, to name but a few.

The simplifying of the treatment of HIV/AIDS, as well as the drastic reduction in the cost of treatment of this disease, were both pioneered by Dr Yusuf Hamied, the chairman of Cipla. From 1970 when India’s Patent Act was passed, to the year 2005, when pressure from western countries caused the law to be struck down, access to low-cost ARVs saved the lives of millions of people.

Research by Cipla is ongoing with regard to a new four-drug combination to treat HIV/AIDS in babies and children.

Further reading on the battles of the last three decades with regards to ARV patents:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078828/

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