CAPE TOWN: South Africa’s third-biggest drug maker CIPLA Medpro has won a R2 billion orders to supply antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for the next three years to the government’s anti-Aids programme, the medication to combat HIV will be made at a plant in KwaZulu-Natal under a contract that starts on April 1, Cape Town-based Cipla said here the other day.
Cipla said that the company’s state-of-the-art 23 000m2 manufacturing facility employed 300 people, 98 percent of whom were historically disadvantaged.
The company said that the order was the third that the drug maker had bagged from the government this year.
In June, Cipla won a R345 million-worth national respiratory tender, the second-largest government award to Cipla in the last three years, and in August, another one for R80m for a state therapeutic drug.
In November 2012, Cipla bagged an ARV tender from the government worth a combined value of R1.448bn for a two-year period, starting on January 1, 2013.
Cipla chief executive Paul Miller said that the company was a pioneer of fixed-dose combinations and intended to “build on the foundation laid to continue our quest of providing affordable health care to all”.
He said Cipla was currently developing unique fixed-dose combinations and formulations, and would continue to promote new molecules and innovative fixed-dose combinations, as well as licensing agreements to ensure fair returns for investors and affordable prices for patients.
Miller said Cipla was proud to have been recognised once again as the preferred partner of the government in the fight against HIV and Aids.
Subhanu Saxena, the managing director and global chief executive, added: “We are extremely proud to have won this tender, which is not only a testament to our high-quality product portfolio, but is also in line with Cipla’s ethos of advancing health care for all South Africans.
“We look forward to continuing this partnership with (the) government – united in the fight against Aids.”
Cipla has been a unit of Mumbai-based Cipla Medpro since the Indian partner acquired it for about $4.5bn (R52.3bn) last year.
South Africa has the world’s biggest ARV-treatment programme, offering medication to more than 2.2 million people.
Use of the regimen has almost doubled since 2008 to cover about one-third of the 6.4 million people in the country who are infected with HIV, according to the Human Sciences Research Council.
The government has a target of halving the number of new infections by 2016.
With 6.4 million people infected with HIV, South Africa has the largest HIV epidemic in the world.
In his budget vote speech in July, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the government planned to extend HIV/Aids tests to the entire population and speed up ARV treatment of those who tested positive for the virus.
He added that from next month, public health centres would expand ARV treatment to those whose blood cell count fell below 500.
Currently, the medicine is available free to people whose count falls below 350.