Cipla recently announced that negotiations to establish manufacturing facilities in Morocco and later in Algeria are in advanced stages of discussion. The pharmaceutical manufacturer aims to establish these facilities through joint ventures, thereby increasing its antiretroviral (ARV) manufacturing capacity in Africa.
This is according to Paul Miller, CEO of Cipla SA, who says that currently one in three HIV/Aids patients in Africa uses a Cipla product. ‘These ARVs are produced by Cipla Medpro Manufacturing (CMM), based in KwaZulu-Natal and Cipla Quality Chemical Industries (CiplaQCLI) in Uganda. CiplaQCLI currently manufactures ARVs for the treatment of approximately 250 000 patients. We hope to significantly increase our manufacturing capacity on the continent through the new manufacturing facilities in Morocco and Algeria.’
Cipla has also commissioned a dedicated ARV manufacturing facility in India in order to double its manufacturing capacity. ‘This unit has been made ready in a record period of nine months. It was commissioned to meet the increased demand for ARVs in order to treat 90 percent of the HIV population – as per the World Health Organization’s ambitious 90-90-90 programme,’ Miller adds.
Providing hope and saving lives
The previous International Aids Conference, which took place in Durban, KZN, in 2000, marked a time when close to 8 000 patients were dying daily from Aids-related infections. This, according to Miller, was mainly due to insufficient access to affordable medication. ‘Since then, Cipla – under the guidance of Chairman, Dr Yusuf Hamied – has played a significant part in saving the lives of approximately 10 million Africans. This is thanks to the development of the unique fixed-dose-combination ARVs available for a dollar a day,’ he explains.
Today Cipla supplies ARVs to over 100 countries and reaches approximately 20 million patients globally – most of which are based in Africa.
Private and public sector collaboration
Pointing to the decision of the South African Department of Health to distribute ARVs to all HIV patients regardless of their CD4 count from September this year, Miller says a team effort between government and pharmaceutical manufacturers will play key role to play in seeing this objective is reached. This is especially relevant to those pharmaceutical manufacturers servicing the 2015/17 national ARV tender.
Substantial capacity developments
In an effort to provide for the increased ARV demand, Cipla SA has recently invested R500 million in upgrading its local manufacturing facility, CMM. This is to ensure it is Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme (PIC/S) compliant. ‘These upgrades, together with the medication provided by our India based partner, Cipla Limited, will ensure that we are able to fulfil an increased ARV quota,’ comments Miller.
‘We are currently developing unique fixed-dose combinations and formulations. We will also 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 further working on nanoparticles, which will substantially bring down the cost of anti-Aids drugs.’
In closing, Miller says: ‘We are honoured to host key stakeholders and activists at the Durban2Durban forum where we will discuss the huge strides that was taken over the last 16 years and the way forward.’