Can A Pasta King Bring Generic Drugs To Sub-Saharan Africa?
Mar16

Can A Pasta King Bring Generic Drugs To Sub-Saharan Africa?

Last week, Lisa wrote a story about India-based Cadila Pharmaceuticals becoming a partial investor in a proposed drug manufacturing site in Rwanda. This guest post from C&EN reporter Linda Wang explains another partnership in that vein. Cameroonian billionaire entrepreneur Celestin Tawamba is hoping that the enormous success he’s had in building a pasta empire in central and sub-Saharan Africa can be replicated in his latest endeavor—to establish a state-of-the-art generic drug production facility in his native Cameroon. In April 2010, Tawamba, who is widely known as “the pasta king,” launched Pharmaceutical Industrial Company (Cinpharm S.A.), in Douala, Cameroon. With financial backing from foreign investors such as Cipla, India’s largest pharmaceutical company, cinPharm has started blister packing and distributing generic drugs, including paracetamol, ibuprofen, metronidazole, amoxicillin, and cotrimoxazole. Cinpharm will also produce generic anti-malaria, anti-TB, and anti-retroviral drugs as well as drugs against gastrointestinal and other diseases prevalent in central and sub-Saharan Africa. The drugs are currently supplied in bulk by Cipla, but cinPharm hopes to one day manufacture its own pharmaceuticals. The ability to blister pack drugs in sub-Saharan African is significant because it helps to lower the cost of imported drugs, which can be extremely expensive and unaffordable for most Africans. "Local drug production may soon fill the empty shelves in local pharmacies and finally take care of alleviating chronic drug shortage," says Rolande Hodel, president of AIDSfreeAFRICA, who alerted C&EN to Cinpharm’s activities. Tawamba’s rapid rise to success with his pasta business is impressive. According to a July 15, 2009, article in the Cameroonian business journal, the Entrepreneuer, Tawamba took out a loan in 2002 and set up La Pasta S.A. in Douala, producing 25 tons of flour and spaghetti. Seven years later, the company was producing 250 tons of pasta and had employed 500 workers. With more than 300 employees and plans to hire additional scientists, Cinpharm is fast becoming one of the largest employers in Cameroon. Hodel says AIDSfreeAFRICA is supporting Cinpharm by helping to raise awareness about the company and recruit chemists with an interest in working in Cameroon. For more information about Cinpharm and other drug production efforts in Cameroon, visit AIDSfreeAFRICA’s...

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Generic Lipitor Is All In The Crystal Forms
May20

Generic Lipitor Is All In The Crystal Forms

Lipitor's got generic competition... at least in Canada. Reuters Health is reporting that three companies-Apotex, Teva, and Watson Pharmaceutical- have been authorized to distribute their generic cholesterol-battling wares in the U.S.'s neighbor to the north, where brand-name Lipitor last year enjoyed annual sales just over $1 billion. Pfizer says it plans to launch its own generic. It's a story that will get many pharma-watchers thinking about November 2011. That's when Lipitor, the #1 drug in the world in terms of sales, loses its marketing exclusivity in the U.S., making it possible for still more generics to get a piece of that pie. What's interesting from a chemical standpoint is how Apotex told Reuters it was able to find a loophole in Pfizer's patents. The company says it developed its own crystal form of Lipitor, which they're selling under the name of Apo-Atorvastatin. The active ingredient in Lipitor is a molecule by the name of atorvastatin calcium. Here is a patent filed in 2001 from Teva for Atorvastatin hemi-calcium form VII. It has a decent discussion of the different crystal forms of atorvastatin known at the time and the pros and cons of their different properties. The crystal form strategy is nothing new, as C&EN's Ann Thayer wrote back in 2007. Drug developers also want to identify and characterize as many [crystalline] forms of their proprietary compounds as possible. Beyond offering choices for optimal physical properties, each form may be patentable. Drug companies usually file patents on all the different forms during development. Thus, when initial patents on the compound itself expire, they can conceivably extend a product's life by moving to another form. In turn, generic drugmakers will target unprotected forms to avoid patent infringement. Nevertheless, high-profile lawsuits around GlaxoSmithKline's Zantac and Paxil and Bristol-Myers Squibb's cefadroxil have hinged on solid-form issues. Read the entire article to learn more about the importance of different crystalline forms in drug development. Still want more? Here's a particularly acrimonious tale about different forms of...

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