Pharmacia Corp. announced last week that it will let generic-drug companies manufacture cheap copies of its HIV nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor Rescriptor to sell in poor countries. The company plans to work with the International Dispensary Association in Amsterdam to provide licenses and technical skills to companies to make generic versions of the drug. IDA will monitor production quality and collect a 5% royalty to cover costs and fund new research, according to the plan. The generic copies would sell in 78 countries where annual per capita income is less than $1,200 or in those where the HIV infection rate is above 1%.
Even though the drug is not widely used in anti-HIV treatment, AIDS activists praised the idea of using a nonprofit agency as an intermediary. They stressed, however, that without billions of dollars more in aid from the West, the poorest countries will not be able to afford even the cheap generic copies of anti-HIV drugs.