Chinese pharmaceutical manufacturer Desano Shanghai has begun distribution of generic drugs that combine to form an anti- Aids treatment, the first time that a low-cost version of the treatment has been available in China, AP reported. The drugs are being supplied to Henan province, which is suffering an Aids epidemic caused by unscrupulous blood buyers. The annual cost of a programme is between US$435 and US$560 per person, about one-twentieth that of imported brand-name drugs, and is being borne by the central government.
The two drugs involved are dd1 and d4t. The patent for dd1 is held by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co of New York. The company has said that Desano's powder version of the drug does not violate its patent, which only applies to the drug in tablet form. A pharmaceutical company in northern China has begun producing a low-cost, generic version of the single Aids drug AZT, patents for which expired in 2002. China's Ministry of Health has said that 10 more companies have applied for permission to make generic versions of anti-Aids drugs with expired patents.