Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its first list of safe AIDS drugs, for the first time acknowledging generic drug makers. Generic drug manufacturers, despite criticism from major money-making manufacturers, have been attempting to provide AIDS medications at low cost. The current WHO list of AIDS drugs includes 41 different forms of medications from major pharmaceutical manufacturers such as GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche Holding as well as the lesser-known Cipla Ltd of India.
Cipla Ltd is a generic drug maker in Bombay India, which broke the patent monopolies held by the larger North American based companies to provide critically needed AIDS drugs to charities like Medicins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) and patients who cannot afford the expensive brand-name versions.
Generic AIDS drugs produced outside of the United States have been under criticism for years by the US government and large pharmaceutical companies who hold that generic drug makers such as Cipla Ltd violate intellectual patent laws. In February 2001, the US filed suit against a Brazilian pharmaceutical, which manufactured generic AIDS drugs. The criticism of generics continues with the release of the WHO safe drug list, however, inclusion on the WHO list provides validation for the work of Cipla Ltd.
Over 36 million people are currently living with the AIDS virus according to the United Nations and women account for 30% of new AIDS cases in the United States.