Aspen signs MOU for TB products

02/03/06:

Johannesburg – JSE listed Aspen (APN) and Indian based Lupin Limited have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of a 50:50 joint venture for the development, manufacture and global marketing of selected anti-tuberculosis (TB) products. The JV will also investigate opportunities to enter the Malaria market.

Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive said “Aspen has long been committed to sourcing and providing solutions to infectious diseases encompassing HIV/Aids, TB and Malaria. Our efforts are underpinned by strategic agreements entered into with leading multinationals for the manufacture and supply of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) products and generic anti-retrovirals (ARVs). This agreement further emphasises our resolve to be an active participant in fighting these diseases which are such a scourge on our continent.”

Dr. D. B. Gupta, Chairman, Lupin Limited said, “We believe that this is a very important step in providing comprehensive therapeutic care in the areas of conventional TB, MDR-TB and Malaria, which are pandemic in nature and a concerted effort is required to provide treatment to the infected. Lupin and Aspen together are best suited to address these disease areas.”

While Lupin has traditional strengths in anti-TB formulations and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), Aspen will bring a range of MDR-TB products to the venture. The agreement compliments the synergies between Lupin’s traditional strengths and Aspen’s experience in the ARV business and African presence. There is a global trend of bundling the treatments of infectious diseases which include HIV/Aids, TB & Malaria.

Statistics indicate that 8.6 million new TB cases are diagnosed annually. It is believed that this only constitutes 70% of infected cases with a greatly reduced percentage being treated. Research conducted through the World Health Organisation in 2001 estimates the market size for first line TB products to be between USD 550 – USD 600 million annually. Of this, 50% of the market is considered to be Institutional and the balance is prescription based. MDR-TB, which is caused by bacteria resistant to established TB treatments, is emerging as a major problem. While the cost of treatment of normal TB with first line drugs is estimated at USD 40 – USD 100 per patient, the MDR-TB treatment cost is substantially higher. The cost of treatment is about USD 800 per patient under the WHO managed program through the Green Light Committee. The MDR-TB market is relatively small and is expected to grow exponentially over the next 4-5 years.