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Uganda opens factory to manufacture generic AIDS drug

Uganda opens a USD 38m plant which will manufacture generic versions of anti-retroviral drugs to combat HIV/ AIDS on the domestic and export markets

Uganda has opened a USD 38m plant which will manufacture generic versions of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs to combat HIV/ AIDS on the domestic and export markets.

Kampala-based Quality Chemicals (QC), which was launched by Uganda's President, Yoweri Museveni, will commence production in January 2008. The active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) will be supplied by Indian generic drug manufacturer, Cipla, which will also offer advice on how to run the plant efficiently.

QC will produce two million tablets per day, or 600 million tablets a year, and will increase output to 1.2 billion tablets a year. The ARV drugs will be exported to Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. The company will also manufacture artemisinin combination (ACTs), an anti-malaria therapy, to treat the pervasive disease in the region.

Since statistics began in 1984, AIDS has killed approximately one million Ugandans, while a similar number are HIV-positive. Official figures show that of the country's 250,000 patients in need of ARVs, only 80,000 have had access.

Uganda has been very successful in reducing its infection rates from a high of 30 per cent in the early 1990s to the current figure of six per cent. The country now joins Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa as the only African nations with companies which produce generics. Mozambique has plans to do the same in the near future.

At the end of 2005, around 40 million people lived with AIDS or HIV, nearly two-thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa, according to UN figures.

President Museveni said at the QC plant launch ceremony: "The government commits itself to its promise of purchasing the ARVs for AIDS patients and ACTs for malaria from the factory for hospitals."

Emmanuel Katongole, QC's CEO, said: "The project offers Uganda a regular and cheap supply of medication."

30th September 2008

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