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Pharmacia pilots HIV drugs programme

March 2003

A US pharmaceutical company is piloting a new way of widening access to medicines in the poorest parts of the world.

Pharmacia, in partnership with the Amsterdam-based International Dispensary Association Foundation (IDA), will grant licences for Delavirdine, a medicine for HIV/Aids, to companies that agree to manufacture and supply cheap copies on a not-for-profit basis to the world’s poorest countries.

Pharmacia will transfer the technology and expertise needed to make the drug to the IDA, which is the largest non-profit supplier of generic medicines to developing countries and relief agencies. The IDA will then pick the companies it wants to manufacture and distribute the medicine.

Pharmacia, which is the world’s 12th largest pharmaceuticals manufacturer, says the programme could reach HIV/Aids patients in 78 developing countries, including all of those in sub-Saharan Africa. Nations with a per capita gross national income of less than $1200 (£744) or an HIV infection rate of more than one per cent of the population will be eligible to take part.

Fred Hassan, chief executive of Pharmacia, said the idea was ‘to address access needs for the most needy populations in the world, within a framework that sustains the intellectual property protections essential for continued investment in the research that will generate new medical breakthroughs.’

Pharmacia, which recently agreed to a takeover by Pfizer, says it hopes other companies will follow suit. A number of firms have allowed their drugs to be sold cheaply in developing countries, but distribution has been a problem.




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