Bloomberg News

South Africa’s ANC Calls for State Pharmaceuticals Company

July 19, 2011

(Updates with ANC comments in second paragraph.)

July 19 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s ruling African National Congress said it is considering the creation of a state-owned pharmaceutical company to provide drugs for AIDS patients.

There is “a compelling case for us establishing a state pharmaceutical company,” ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg, today. Details of the plan are yet to be established, he said.

About 5.7 million South Africans are infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS and a further five million infections are likely over the next two decades, according to a November report commissioned by the government. No other country has more citizens living with the virus, the report said.

Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd., the largest maker of generic medicines in the southern hemisphere, in December said it won about 40 percent of a 4.16 billion-rand ($599 million) contract to supply South Africa with AIDS treatments. Cipla Medpor South Africa Ltd. and Adcock Ingram Holdings Ltd. also won part of the tender.

Creating a state-owned competitor “doesn’t mean the pharmaceuticals sector will be closed down,” Mantashe said. “What Aspen will do and any other company will do I don’t think is an issue now.”

Aspen gained 0.8 percent to 84.20 rand at 1:07 p.m. in Johannesburg trading, while Adcock advanced 0.6 percent to 61.50 rand. Cipla declined for a third consecutive day, losing 0.4 percent to 6.76 rand.

--Editors: Philip Sanders, Karl Maier

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at fwild@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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