Moscow, May 4 (UNI) Russia will start producing generic versions of patented anti-retroviral drugs for treating HIV, early next year.
''We will begin producing the basic range of anti-HIV drugs in Russia, as early as 2007,'' Ramil Khabriyev, head of the Federal Service for the Supervision of Public Health and Social Affairs said in an interview to the Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper, published today.
Mr Khabriyev said Russia's health authorities were currently negotiating the launch of production with several Western pharmaceutical companies.
''A whole number of foreign producers have already begun to inspect our pharmaceutical factories with a view to launching licensed production,'' he said, adding that domestic production would make anti-retrovirals more affordable to Russian HIV/AIDS patients.
According to government statistics, about 350,000 people are suffering from HIV/AIDS in Russia.
However, UN experts have said the real number is 1.4 million, with more than 80 percent of HIV-positive Russians aged under 30.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that at Russia's initiative, AIDS problem will be included in the agenda of the summit of G-8 leaders, to be held in St Petersburg in mid-July, as it was a major concern of the international community.
He also called for drafting a long-term strategy to fight against AIDS and its effects.
''In drafting a programme for five years to come it is necessary to include in it again measures for preventing HIV infection from spreading,'' Mr Putin stressed.
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