The Health Ministry on Tuesday told The Hindu it was sourcing Lopinavir syrup, a life-saving drug administered to HIV positive children, through a global donor agency after Cipla stopped manufacturing it citing lack of payment. The Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will help the Centre procure the drug, and it should be available by the end of the week, Arun Panda, additional secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said.
More than 600 people had written to the prime minister on March 4, urging him to look into the alleged delay in government payments to the pharma company. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry released Rs 6 crore to the company, the first instalment in the repayment process.
After Cipla stopped manufacturing the drug, the ministry had asked State AIDS Control Societies to buy it from local markets. However, Cipla was the only company producing the drug, so it is not in stock in local markets either.
Cipla’s global Director for access and public affairs told the English daily it did not participate in the last tender auction “because of payment issues”, but that the company was not against participating in government tenders. He added that Cipla is now looking to register Lopinavir pellets, which are easier to mix into children’s food and thus likely more effective than the syrup.