Indian Pharma major Cipla has stopped production of the Lopinavir syrup saying it has not recovered its dues from the government. Cipla is the only manufacturer of Lopinavir syrup in India, so it has gone out of stock in local markets as well.
This move created panic among children living with HIV (CLHIV). Therefore, they have written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him for help.
600+ children ranging from ages 3 to 19 from various parts of India signed a letter which states that “the pharmaceutical company Cipla has in various forums cited delay in payments by the national programme for the HIV medicines by several years and even non-payment of its dues in many cases. Profits on child doses of HIV medicines are small and delayed payments are having a chilling effect on the ability of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to convince the company to participate in the bids it invited annually,” as reported by The Hindu.
It further states “Procurement and supply chain reforms for pharmaceuticals led by the Health Ministry are taking a long time. We humbly request you to in the meantime look into the matter of HIV drug stock out in general and in particular paediatric HIV medicines to ensure that they are not merely exported but also actually available to the children in this country”.
Cipla had stopped participating in government tenders after non-payment, “Profits on child doses of HIV medicines are small and delayed payments is having a chilling effect on the ability of NACO to convince the company to participate in the bids it invited annually” as mentioned in the letter.
As an issue is becoming serious, the health ministry has asked State AIDS Control Societies to buy the drug from local markets, “An emergency tender has been placed but we have instructed SACS and State Governments to purchase from local markets,” Arun Panda, Additional Secretary, Health Ministry, told The Hindu.
Cipla did not reply to The Logical Indian’s queries, but the emails made available to The Hindu reveal that Cipla wants assurance of the payment from HIV patients. In an email exchange between Cipla and patient-activist Loon Gangte, Cipla MD & CEO, Mr Vohra states that “Cipla has always stood for the patients — not just in India but also all over the World. Quite naturally, we also expect that issues regarding payments are also addressed expeditiously”. He hinted either Global Fund or the Indian government settles the bills.