Benefit To LDC Manufacturers From Roche HIV/AIDS Offer Unclear20/01/2006 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch 1 CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche has launched a new initiative under which it says it will offer manufacturers in least developed countries technical assistance in producing generic HIV/AIDS medicines, but it is unclear how many companies will be able to benefit from the project.There could be as few as five manufacturers in sub-Saharan Africa that would be able to make use of this offer, Maureen Kirkman of the South African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association told Intellectual Property Watch.Roche has indicated that there could be some 15-20 companies, but said that until they receive the requests from interested companies they do not know for sure, a Roche spokesperson said. Under the initiative, Roche would help local companies in LDCs around the world to produce generic versions of their AIDS medicine.The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, a non-governmental organisation active in the area of policy and legal issues raised by HIV/AIDS all over the world, was not yet prepared to comment on this initiative, it said.The initiative is meant to constitute “practical help in the field,” the Roche spokesperson said. The model for the transfer of expertise will be based upon the manufacturing process of Roche’s HIV protease inhibitor medicine, saquinavir.The spokesperson said that under this initiative there would not be any business relationship between the parties. Roche would not invest in these companies, and no contracts would have to be signed nor voluntary licenses applied for, he said.The initiative also did not change Roche’s patent policy, as for some years it had not had patents in least developed countries, including most of sub-Saharan Africa, the spokesperson said.Kirkman said that there were “somewhere in the region of 40” pharmaceutical manufacturers in sub-Saharan Africa involved in some kind of production, but many of these were only producing one or two products, while others were importing substances and just finalising the production process. That means that only about five companies would be likely benefit from Roche’s offer, she said.Kirkman said she “could imagine” that some local manufacturers would be interested in production help from Roche, adding that there was “a big drive” from the South African government to produce HIV/AIDS medicines locally to encourage competition and drive down prices. Roche confirmed that “inquiries are being received” about the initiative.Thirteen or 14 companies are selling HIV/AIDS medicines in South Africa, while there used to be some 80 pharmaceutical manufacturers in sub-Saharan Africa six or seven years ago, Kirkman said. The rest had closed because of a variety of reasons, including mergers, and the amended patent legislation in South Africa in 1997 which lead to a court case between the government and the pharmaceutical industry, she said.The Roche spokesperson said that the company was not concerned that these new producers would interfere in its market because the company was already selling at non-profit levels, and Africa was “not really a market” for Roche.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Related"Benefit To LDC Manufacturers From Roche HIV/AIDS Offer Unclear" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.