The development of a successfully expanded antiretroviral treatment (ART) programme that allows people with HIV to live significantly longer has led to a greater percentage of HIV-infected South Africans remaining in society, according to the 2014 Human Sciences Research Council’s (HSRC) National HIV Prevalence, Incidence and Behaviour Survey.
The pharmaceutical industry, in support of government, plays a key role in broadening access to ARTs in South Africa and while the increased percentage of those living with HIV also stems from new infections, it can be viewed as a reflection of the industry’s efforts to broaden access to affordable, generic treatments.
This is according to Paul Miller, CEO of Medpro Pharmaceutica (Pty) Ltd – a subsidiary company of Cipla Medpro, who says that the government tenders, aimed at broadening access to first line, 3-in1 antiretroviral fixed dose combinations, has been instrumental in this process.
The HSRC found that the total number of infected South Africans now stands at 6.4-million, 1.2-million more than in 2008. ART access almost doubled between 2008 and 2012, with about a third of the country’s HIV-infected population accessing ART in 2012.
Miller says that the upcoming World AIDS Day on 1 December 2014 is again a stark reminder of the scale of the disease. “With an estimated 6.4-million people (approximately 13% of the country’s adult population) living with HIV in South Africa, Cipla, in partnership with government and healthcare professionals, remains committed to increasing awareness of the disease.
As a partner of government in the fight against HIV/AIDS Cipla has, in the past few years, invested heavily in upgrades to its local manufacturing facility. Since inception, the company has invested R446m in improving the facility and has committed to spend R58m in the year ending March 2015. This investment is primarily aimed at producing large amounts of products such as Odimune, in order to meet the scale of the tender demands.
“Our combined efforts have prolonged the lives of approximately 10-million South Africans living with HIV, but more still needs to be done.”
The organisation is currently developing unique fixed dose combinations (FDCs) and formulations and will continue to promote new molecules and innovative fixed-dose combinations as well as licencing agreements to ensure fair returns for investors and affordable prices for patients.
Cipla is known as a pioneer of fixed dose combinations. In 2001, at a time when the commonly used triple combination ARV therapy cost around $12 500 (USD) per patient, Cipla’s Dr Yusuf Hamied, delivered on his promise to make AIDS medicines available for $1 a day. This was at a time when the disease was ravaging the poor in Africa and elsewhere and such drugs were prohibitively expensive for most. Cipla also went further and made this triple combination available in the world’s first 3-in-1 combination ARV.
“We will keep delivering these affordable combinations in contentment of our ethos that none shall be denied,” concludes Miller.
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