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Cipla introduces HIV drug for children in South Africa that won't need refrigeration

business | Jun 15, 2022 3:16 PM IST

Cipla introduces HIV drug for children in South Africa that won't need refrigeration

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Worldwide, 2.78 million children and adolescents are living with HIV – 88 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa – but only 54 percent have access to treatment, according to UNICEF.

Cipla — known for revolutionising the HIV market in Africa by introducing a drug for less than $1 a day — has introduced another drug in South Africa to treat the virus that attacks the body's immune system. This time the drug is specifically for infants and children.

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The company, in collaboration with the not-for-profit Drugs for Neglected Diseases or DNDi, has introduced a 4-in-1 fixed-dose combination medicine. This means the drug contains 4 medications or antiretroviral treatments used to treat HIV.
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The drug is heat stable, which means it requires no refrigeration. Why is that important? Because many times, drugs that require refrigeration get wasted if there is no proper refrigeration facility or during transport without maintaining the right temperatures.
According to the company, the drug can be easily administered as it is sweet-tasting and contains granule-filled capsules that can be sprinkled over food or dissolved in a liquid drink.
This drug contains the antiretroviral drug lopinavir. Until now, the only lopinavir-based treatment for babies and young children was a syrup, which had 40 percent alcohol and required refrigeration.
Lopinavir is a protease inhibitor and is widely used for the treatment of HIV and is also a potential candidate for the treatment of COVID-19. The other three treatments in the drug are abacavir, lamivudine, and ritonavir.
While this drug might not significantly contribute to Cipla’s profit and loss statement, it is an important step toward fighting the virus in a continent where the highest number of children under 15 globally have HIV.
A look at sub-Saharan Africa:
Worldwide, 2.78 million children and adolescents are living with HIV – 88 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa – but only 54 percent have access to treatment, according to UNICEF.
"It is highly significant that this first regulatory approval of the 4-in-1 formulation is from a country (South Africa) with a high burden of HIV among children," said Irene Mukui, head of HIV, DNDi.
The pharmaceutical company is deepening its presence in key markets of India and South Africa, among other economies of the emerging world, to make healthcare more affordable globally.
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