S. Africa mulls state-run pharma to control HIV med costs

South Africa has decided to take HIV drug pricing into its own hands. After years of complaining that the cost of AIDS drugs was too high, the government says it will start a state-run drug company in an effort to push prices down. South Africa has 5.7 million people infected with HIV, Reuters reports.

South Africa uses about one-quarter of the anti-retroviral drugs used across the globe, African National Congress leader Gwede Mantashe told the news service. So, it makes sense for the country to set up its own pharma firm to help provide those meds, Mantashe said. He didn't provide details about the move, however. 

If South Africa follows through on its pledge, the state-run firm would enter a market in which leading companies such as Aspen Pharmacare and Adcock Ingram sell hundreds of millions' worth of HIV meds. As Reuters reports, health officials announced last December a $615 million drug-supply agreement with 10 companies. Incidentally, GlaxoSmithKline owns 19% of Aspen, and the two companies collaborate on sales of a number of products.

- read the Reuters news