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New anti-AIDS drug deal could short-change consumers

The local pharmaceutical company, Aspen Pharmacare, will soon manufacture generic versions of two more patented anti-AIDS drugs and sell them in 95 developing countries.

According to the local Business Day newspaper, Aspen announced on Monday that under the terms of the deal, to be finalised in September, it would acquire the distribution rights in Africa for the antiretroviral (ARV) drugs Truvada and Viread, manufactured by US company Gilead.

Viread and Truvada are new-generation ARVs, increasingly prescribed in the US and Europe for strains of HIV that are resistant to other drugs because they have fewer side effects and are taken only once a day.

Aspen Pharmacare already produces generic copies of patented drugs made by GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer-Ingelheim and Bristol-Meyers Squibb.

But AIDS activists raised concerns that under the deal, Aspen would simply take over part of Gilead's not-for-profit market, rather than becoming a competitor offering cheaper copies of the drugs.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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