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Lupin and Aspen to form JV on TB drugs

The 50:50 joint venture will develop, manufacture and market selected anti-tuberculosis products.

March 25, 2006

Mumbai-based Lupin Ltd has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Africa's largest drugmaker Aspen for the establishment of a 50:50 joint venture for the development, manufacture and marketing of selected anti-tuberculosis products, the companies said in a join press release.

Marketing of the products would be on a global basis excluding the United States, South Africa and India. 

The joint venture will also investigate opportunities to enter the malaria market. The total market for malaria products is estimated to be worth around US$500 million, of which 85% is concentrated in Africa.

Lupin has traditional strengths in tuberculosis product formulations and active pharmaceutical ingredients, while Aspen would bring a range of multi-drug resistant TB products to the venture. There would be synergies derived from the two firms' traditional strengths and Aspen's experience in the antiretroviral business and presence in Africa, the companies said.

There is a global trend towards bundling the treatments of HIV, TB and malaria together. According to current statistics, 8.6 million new cases of tuberculosis are diagnosed every year, and it is believed that only 70% of the infected are diagnosed, and fewer receive treatment. 

Estimates from a World Health Organisation study group in 2001 put the market size for TB products at US$550 million to US$600 million for first-line TB products. Of this, around 50% is considered to be institutional and the balance is prescription based. Multi-drug resistant TB is emerging as a major problem.

The companies noted that whilst the cost of treatment of normal TB with first line drugs is estimated at around US$40 to US$100 per patient, treatment of multi-drug resistant TB is substantially higher, at around US$800 per patient under WHO managed programmes.

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