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HIV/Aids Medicines In Africa

Fri, 24 Sep 2004

Glaxosmithkline Grants A Fourth Voluntary Licence For The Manufacture And Sale Of Hiv/Aids Medicines In Africa

Issued - Wednesday 22 September 2004, London GlaxoSmithKline today announced further action to help tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.

GSK has granted a voluntary licence under its patents to Cosmos Limited, a Kenyan pharmaceutical company, for the manufacture and sale of antiretrovirals (ARVs) containing zidovudine and/or lamivudine in the public and private sectors in Kenya and other countries in East Africa. GSK currently sells zidovudine (sold as Retrovir®), lamivudine (sold as Epivir®) and the combination of the two molecules (sold as Combivir®) across the region.

GSK is one of the world's leading manufacturers of ARV medicines and has been instrumental in efforts over the past few years to improve access to ARV medication through its preferential pricing programme which is in operation around Africa and in the other developing countries. Furthermore GSK is the industry leader in HIV research and development, bringing to market newer and more effective medications for treating HIV disease.

Cosmos produces quality drugs on the WHO essential drugs list to meet the healthcare challenges in Kenya and throughout the region. Under the terms of the agreement Cosmos is granted the right to manufacture and distribute ARVs in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. Cosmos will obtain all appropriate health registrations, permissions, consent and regulatory authorisations relating to the manufacture and sale of the product. As a major supplier of essential drugs to various medical institutions, Cosmos is well placed to provide ARVs in the region.

"This announcement amplifies GSK's long-standing and continuing commitment to improve access to medicines in developing countries - a commitment the company is very proud of and will maintain far into the future," GSK East Africa general manager pharmaceuticals Andrew Bulloch says.

"We are pleased that another local healthcare company will play a significant role in addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis." To facilitate the distribution of reduced-price product in relation to this voluntary licence, Shire Pharmaceuticals Group plc, which has a Master Licence agreement with GSK, has agreed to waive or reduce its rights to royalty payments from GSK for products containing lamivudine.

The licence, which is the subject of today's announcement, is GlaxoSmithKline's fourth voluntary licence granted to African generics companies for the sale of some of its antiretrovirals in Africa. The other three licences which cover Sub-Saharan Africa were granted to Feza Pharmaceuticals, Aspen Pharmacare and Thembalami Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Limited.

GSK NZ is the largest supplier of anti-retrovirals in New Zealand and we have facilitated the supply of medicines to some Pacific Islands on the Not For Profit pricing Initiative.

ENDS

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