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Now, Ranbaxy AIDS drug under US lens

September 22, 2008 12:45 IST

A United States Congressional committee has widened the scope of its ongoing inquiry into the United States Food and Drug Administration's handling of drug- marketing approvals of India's leading drug-maker Ranbaxy.

It is now probing the quality of AIDS medicines supplied by the company to developing countries under US government-funded programmes.

On Friday, four members of the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce wrote to Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, levelling serious allegations over the marketing application and production process of Ranbaxy and sought all details of medicines supplied by the company under a US government programme (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- PEPFAR) that was launched in 2003 to combat HIV/AIDS and is the largest commitment by any nation till date to combat a single disease. Recently, the US government committed over $48 billion to combat several diseases across the world over the next five years.

Estimates suggest that Ranbaxy has received over $9 million from the programme so far. Ranbaxy had a turnover of $1.5 billion in 2007-08, of which a quarter came from US sales.

This is the latest twist in the ongoing travails that Ranbaxy is facing in the US.

Last week, the USFDA blocked the entry of 30 medicines manufactured by Ranbaxy at its Indian plants. The company is being acquired by Japanese drug-maker Daiichi Sankyo.

The Congressmen have asked Rice for a list of all non-government organisations that have received Ranbaxy drugs for distribution under the programme.

In a statement posted on the US Congress Committee on Energy and Commerce's website, the senators said for more than three years, the USFDA and the Department of Justice have been investigating possible fraud and other improprieties in the firm's applications to sell prescription drugs in the country.

BS Reporters in New Delhi/Mumbai
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