Panafrican News Agency

HIV drugs for children to be produced under one dollar a day in Sub-Saharan Africa

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) - The Indian pharmaceutical company, Cipla, on Friday announced their commitment to price the ground-breaking new product Quadrimune, a “4 in 1” treatment for young children with HIV, at below a dollar a day in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Quadrimune is currently under review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in children between 3 and 25 kg bodyweight, according to the statement made available to PANA in Kigali.

This pleasant tasting, heat-stable fixed-dose combination of four antiretrovirals (ARVs) for infants and young children with HIV was developed in partnership by Cipla and the not-for-profit Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) with financial support from Unitaid and other donors.

If it receives tentative approval by the FDA in 2020, the 4-in-1 will represent a major improvement in the treatment of HIV in very young children and will replace older, bitter-tasting medicines, medicines requiring refrigeration, or regimens that are no longer recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), it said.

Commenting on the move, Dr Yusuf K Hamied, Chairman of Cipla, said: "Cipla is happy that over the past 20 years it has contributed to making adult antiretroviral drugs available at affordable prices for patients throughout the developing world, in particular Africa, and has pioneered the development of paediatric fixed-dose combinations of ARVs for children"

‘Over the years, the treatment of children with HIV has been neglected. In order to ensure faster access, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, our product Quadrimune, once approved, will be offered for less than one dollar a day for children,’ Dr Hamied said.

Official estimates show that it is estimated that 1.8 million children are living with HIV, almost 90% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. Only an estimated 54% of these children have access to HIV treatment and over 300 children still die from the disease every day. Inappropriate, suboptimal treatment options have contributed to low treatment coverage.

Quadrimune contains the WHO-recommended ARVs abacavir, lamivudine, lopinavir, and ritonavir, in the form of granules filled in capsules. If approved, parents and caretakers will be able to administer the drugs to children by sprinkling the granules with soft food, water, or milk. The 4-in-1 does not require refrigeration and is easy to administer to infants and children of different weights and ages.

Cipla will provide Quadrimune at an ex-factory cost of US$ 15 per pack of 120 capsules, giving a price of $1 per day ($360 per year) for children in the medium weight bracket of 10 to 13.9 kg, with prices lower, at 50 US cents per day for younger children and infants. 

“This optimal child-adapted all-in-one ARV regimen, that meets WHO recommendations, will be a game-changer for millions of infants and young children,” Unitaid Executive Director Lelio Marmora said.

"Once adopted, this innovative formulation will enable great advances in the treatment of the youngest kids,” he said.

The 4-in-1 could be the first of several new treatment options for young children with HIV that are now on the horizon, health experts said.

-0- PANA TWA/VAO 29Nov2019