The first Cambodian-manufactured anti-retroviral drugs went on sale at Phnom Penh pharmacies on Wednesday. Advocates hope producing the drugs here will eventually improve the availability of the drugs to Cambodian AIDS patients.
On Wednesday morning, the drugs had arrived at the Khmer Pharmacy in Daun Penh district, but no one had purchased them.
Pharmacist Lim Tevy, 50, said the store usually sells about five bulk orders of foreign-made anti-AIDS drugs each month—mostly to clinics—but customers had not yet heard of the Cambodian-made product.
Hout Sarim, director of the Cambodian Pharmaceutical Enterprise, which manufactures the drugs, said sales agents would make the generic drugs available to 400 legally operating pharmacies in Phnom Penh and throughout the provinces.
Hout Sarim said the factory could boost that to 2 million of each pill if there is sufficient demand in Cambodia and in export markets.
The Cambodian Pharmaceutical Enterprise, which is operated and owned by the government and a private company in Hong Kong, purchased the required technology and materials from a private company in Europe that is recognized for its quality by the World Health Organization, Hout Sarim said.
He said the treatments of two pills per day would cost about $30 per month, which is slightly cheaper than generic drugs imported from abroad, but still beyond the financial reach of most Cambodians suffering from the disease.