Kedu, the first China-made drug for treating AIDS, went on sale in tablet and capsule forms across China on Sunday.
Kedu, produced by Northeast China Pharmaceuticals Group Company, is a legal imitation of AZT, the most effective anti-AIDS drug licensed by the United States Food and Drug Administration. The patent protection period of AZT in China expired at the end of last year.
Kedu obtained a permit for domestic marketing from the State Drug Administration in early August. It put an end to the country's total reliance on imported AIDS medicines.
According to Zeng Yi, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the number of AIDS patients and HIV carriers in China is 850,000.
Due to a reliance on imported AIDS drugs, patients and HIV carriers in China had to spend much more money in treating the disease each year than those in countries such as Thailand and Brazil.
Wu Hao, an AIDS consultant at You'an Hospital, Beijing, disclosed AIDS and HIV patients mostly received a cocktail treatment at his hospital for a monthly cost of 2,500 yuan (US$301) to 3,000 yuan (US$361).
Chen Gang, chairman of the Northeast China Pharmaceuticals Group Company, said he hoped Kedu could help bring down the annual pharmaceutical spending of AIDS patients and HIV carriers to below10,000 yuan (US$1,204).
(Xinhua News Agency September 2, 2002)