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Rediff.com  » Business » Cipla may sue US-based AIDS body

Cipla may sue US-based AIDS body

August 10, 2007 12:00 IST
Leading drug maker Cipla has got into a spat, with the US-based non-government organisation AIDS Healthcare Foundation accusing the company of selling key AIDS drug Viraday in India at a high price.

The NGO has published the allegation through newspaper advertisements and later at a press conference on Thursday.

According to AHF Asia-Pacific Bureau chief Chinkholal Thangsing, Cipla sells Viraday in Africa for Rs 21,200 per patient per year, while Indian patients have to pay Rs 54,000 for the same drug. The AHF wanted Cipla chairman Y K Hameed to respond to this differential pricing that was harming Indian patients.

Responding to the allegation, Amar Lulla, managing director, Cipla, said the company was examining legal options to compensate for defamation and damage due to the false statements.

"It is shocking that AHF is spending lakhs of rupees on advertisements in various newspapers distorting facts and making baseless allegations. Not one pack of Viraday has been sold by Cipla in Africa till date," he said.

On the NGO's allegations that the company has no transparent policy on its pricing strategy towards India, Lulla said Cipla sold AIDS drugs to Naco (National AIDS Control Organisation) at the same prices as in Africa.

According to Lulla, Naco orders were bagged through competitive tenders and the details were in the public domain. "I doubt the credentials of the NGO. It has connections with US pharmaceutical industry. What could be their agenda?" he said.

Drug firm Gilead had been in the news last year when it offered manufacturing and distribution licenses (for developing nations) of its patented drug Viread to eight Indian companies.

Cipla was the only company that decided to refuse the offer and challenge Gilead's patent application on Viread in India.

BS Reporter in New Delhi
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