BMS licenses atazanavir to generic drug companies

On 14 February 2006, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) announced that it would grant a royalty-free license for atazanavir to two generic manufacturers.

The licenses will be issued to Emcure Pharmaceuticals in India, and Aspen PharmaCare in South Africa. Under the deal, the generic companies will set the pricing for atanazavir in India and South Africa respectively.

Atazanavir is recommended in treatment guidelines to be used with a boosting dose of ritonavir. The current formulation of ritonavir requires refrigeration, but a new formulation produced by Abbott that is not affected by temperature has been co-formulation into Abbott’s own PI (Kaletra). This may put pressure on Abbott Laboratories, the maker of ritonavir, to make a heat-stable version available for use in developing countries.

BMS will also provide technical training so the companies learn how to manufacture atazanavir but couldn’t say whether the price charged by either generic company would be less than its own price.

A consistent demand from advocates and activists, in countries with new treatment progammes, have been for access to new and affordable drugs to use in second-line therapy. Atazanavir, tenofovir and abacavir are three key drugs that are not generally available in resource-poor settings, so this move is welcomed.

Neither the timeline for making atazanavir available nor the expected price were indicated in the press release.

Source: BMS Press Release

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