Nigeria to begin making HIV/AIDS generic drug
Last Updated: 2004-07-27
LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigeria’s first generic HIV/AIDS drug plant is set to start production in September, company officials said on Tuesday, raising prospects of wider access to treatment for 3.5 million infected Nigerians.
Archy Pharmaceuticals Ltd, which commissioned the plant on the outskirts of Nigeria’s commercial city of Lagos, said its antiretroviral (ARV) drugs would be manufactured from raw materials imported from China.
"Our ultimate goal is to provide Nigerians with quality antiretroviral drugs at affordable prices," company chairman Tony Ihenatu told Reuters after the commissioning ceremony.
Campaigners said the local manufacture of the generic pills would boost Nigeria’s ambitious anti-AIDS programme and provide relief for millions of Nigerians living with the virus who do not receive government’s subsidised AVRs.
In 2002 Nigeria launched Africa’s biggest AIDS control plan aimed at distributing cheap generic drugs from India to 10,000 adults and 5,000 children at a subsidised monthly cost of 1,000 naira ($7) per person.
The drugs, which cost many times more on the open market, are distributed in 25 HIV/AIDS treatment centres nationwide.
The programme suffered a major setback early this year when it was hit by an acute scarcity of pills, forcing the government to order $4 million worth of ARVs to end a four-month shortage.
UNAIDS and health ministry figures indicate that around 3.5 million or about five percent of Nigeria’s 130 million people have HIV.
Ihenatu said the Nigerian-owned Archy Pharmaceuticals hoped to expand its operations and supply the generic pills to other West African nations by December.
Nigeria is the world’s seventh largest oil exporter, but the majority of its population lives on less than a dollar a day.
A Nigerian unit of Indian pharmaceutical giant Ranbaxy started the production of paediatric ARVs earlier this year