Roche shares HIV drug expertise with developing world


Roche is to share its knowledge in the manufacture of Roche's second line HIV medicine with four companies based in Africa and Asia.

Roche is to share its knowledge in the manufacture of Roche's second line HIV medicine with four companies based in Africa and Asia.

Roche's Technology Transfer Initiative, which is based on the processes to produce saquinavir - Roche's second line HIV medicine, will involve the following companies: Regal Pharmaceuticals in Kenya, CAPS Holdings in Zimbabwe, Shelys Pharmaceuticals in Tanzania and Beximco Pharmaceuticals in Bangladesh.

And as part of Roche's Technology Transfer Initiative, these companies will be provided free of charge with the technical expertise to manufacture generic HIV medicine, based upon the processes to produce saquinavir, Roche's 2nd line (1) HIV medicine.

Since its launch two years ago, Roche has signed technology transfer agreements with a nine companies across sub-Saharan Africa and the world's least developed countries.

Roche has also received expressions of interest from 35 manufacturers in 15 eligible countries, including Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

William M. Burns, ceo of the Roche Pharma division, said: "These new agreements highlight the ongoing contribution that our technology transfer initiative is making to help strengthen and expand local manufacturing capabilities for HIV medicines in resource-limited countries."

The technology transfer initiatives have also been expanded to include training for local manufacturers. These sessions focus on the development of improved manufacturing processes and provide a forum for Roche to share its knowledge and experience with those who have access to fewer resources.

Rahul Malhotra, general manager GMP & Formulations at Shelys Pharmaceuticals in Tanzania, said: "The practical support that Roche has provided has been a great learning experience for my team, enabling us to make improvements to our entire technical and quality systems. We have been enthused by this partnership and are eager to work with Roche on this initiative to help meet the needs of our people suffering from HIV infections, and improve availability of these badly needed medications."

Roche's dedicated team will work onsite at manufacturing facilities at all four locations and from its headquarters in Switzerland to undertake the technology transfers. The companies will be able to produce saquinavir for supply throughout countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and to those defined as Least Developed by the United Nations, due to Roche's policy of not filing patents on antiretroviral medicines in these countries.

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Generic versions of such HIV medicines can be produced in LDCs and sub-Saharan Africa without the need for a voluntary or compulsory licence.