S.Africa firms win big in $667 mln HIV drug contract

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 30, 2012 19:10 hrs

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 30 (Reuters) - South African drugmakers are the big winners in a $667 million contract to supply HIV drugs awarded this week by the government of Africa's largest economy, with three local companies taking nearly 60 percent of the deal.

South Africa on Thursday awarded the two-year contract to 12 domestic and international firms to supply life-prolonging drugs to treat its biggest single health problem.

Aspen Pharmacare, Africa's largest generic drugs maker, has won 20.6 percent of the contract, while smaller rival Adcock Ingram was awarded 14 percent, the health department said in a statement.

Cipla Medpro, the drugmaker in which India's Cipla has offered to buy a majority stake, was awarded 9 percent, the government said.

A Cipla Medpro spokesman said its share of the contract rises to 24.5 percent when including wholly owned unit Medpro Pharmaceutica.

Medpro Pharmaceutica, which won 15.5 percent of the contract, tendered a separate bid from that of its parent.

Medpro Pharmaceutica will import the drugs from India, while Cipla Medpro is a local manufacturer, the spokesman said.

Cipla Medpro has a longstanding supply deal with India's Cipla.

That deal was spearheaded by former Cipla Medpro Chief Executive Jerome Smith, who quit last month following charges of gross misconduct for approving pay rises and bonuses for himself without board approval. ($1 = 8.7660 South African rand) (Reporting by David Dolan; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)

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