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Bristol-Myers outsources AIDS drug to Emcure

Our Corporate Bureau  |  Mumbai 

will license and lend technical expertise for its drug, Reyataz (atazanavir).
The US drug maker Squibb & Company has signed an outsourcing agreement with the Pune-based to manufacture and supply its latest in India.
With this agreement, will license and lend technical expertise for its drug ""Reyataz (atazanavir) to Emcure.
The Pune firm will also have a royalty-free licence to make and sell the drug in India, the first such pact for a local generic drug firm. Bristol-Myers is expected to lose market exclusivity for Reyataz in 2017 in the US, EU and Japan.
The US company's move is part of its strategic decision to deal with two generic drug makers to allow cheap versions of its latest AIDS drug to be made in sub-Saharan Africa and India.
Though Brystol-Myers and Emcure had jointly planned to make a formal announcement of this tie-up on Wednesday in India, it has been postponed owing to technical reasons.
Bristol-Mayer is also signing with another generic manufacturer"" of South Africa. Aspen also will be granted a royalty-free licence to Aspen to make and sell the drug in sub-Saharan Africa.
A Brystol-Mayers release stated that the generic will set their own prices in the local markets. Emcure sources were not available for comments. Reyataz is a once-daily protease inhibitor, a second-line treatment for AIDS for patients who stop responding to first-choice drugs.
Atazanavir was approved in the US in 2003 for use in combination therapy with other anti-HIV medicines. According to the company, a full year's treatment with the drug costs about $8,700 in the US.
Protease inhibitors help suppress the HIV virus that causes AIDS. The number of patients in the developing world taking first-line anti-retroviral drugs increased after drug makers came under pressure to improve access to drugs. But that has led to drug resistance , creating the need for more expensive second-line drugs.
Some 2.4 million people died of HIV-related illnesses in 2005 in sub-Saharan Africa, and some 3.2 million became infected with HIV.
South Africa has the world's highest caseload of HIV and AIDS with some 5 million people infected in a population of 45 million.
India is home to the second-largest number of infections after South Africa, with an HIV/AIDS population also of about 5 million.
In 2001, Bristol-Myers had announced that it would not prosecute generic drug makers who violated its patents in order to supply its HIV medicines in sub-Saharan Africa.
The company had also stated that the company would supply its HIV medications at no-profit prices. Bristol-Myers said sales of Reyataz, increased 27 per cent to $188 million in the fourth quarter of 2005.

First Published: Fri, February 17 2006. 00:00 IST