Aspen strikes partnership deal with India's Laurus Labs

The deal is expected to reduce the cost of HIV drugs. 

Aspen Pharmacare Holdings has agreed to a partnership with India’s Laurus Labs to boost supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients that will help reduce the cost of HIV drugs.

The deal was first reported by South African newspaper Business Day. 

The deal with Laurus, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), which are used for making HIV/Aids drugs, is expected to give the South African government access to competitively priced APIs, Aspen senior executive Stavros Nicolaou told Business Day.

Aspen is led by Stephen Saad (pictured). 

According to Business Day, Laurus has acquired Aspen’s South African subsidiary Phekolong Pharmaceuticals, which paves the way for the Indian pharmaceutical company to gain a trading entity in South Africa.

Aspen, which is one of the long-standing suppliers of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to the government, would license its ARV intellectual property to Phekolong on a royalty basis. Phekolong, in turn, would supply and commercialise the ARV products locally.

The deal is expected to put Aspen in a better position to bid for government contracts as the country plans to scale up treatment to six million people, Stavros said. 

He said the move would strengthen local pharmaceutical manufacturing and counter the trend of deindustrialisation “that has been ongoing for some years now”.

“While ARV drug prices have reduced significantly over the years, ARV API sourcing has remained highly challenging for local ARV manufacturers,” Stavros  told Business Day.  ARV API made up about 70 percent of total ARV costs, with all ARV API being controlled outside SA. “Without access to competitively priced APIs, you cannot be competitive. You will be shut out even in your own market,” he said.