South Africa's largest pharmaceutical company, Adcock Ingram, is to start manufacturing generic antiretrovirals following approval by the Medicines Control Council.
The MCC's move comes in the wake of the recent World Health Organisation approval of the company's research and development site, one of a few such sites accredited globally.
Jonathan Louw, managing director, said Adcock was ready to tender for government's ARV requirements and to meet the needs of the private healthcare market.
"We were awarded the licence last week, and pharmacists are already busy with production. The process of acquiring voluntary licenses started in 2005 and, over the last 23 months, we have completed their development and registration," he said.
The generic ARVs, which were formally launched on Friday, will be branded Adco-Lamivudine, Adco-Neverapine and Adco-Zidovudine. They have all been developed by the Adcock in-house team at its Wadeville, Johannesburg, factory.
Louw said the products would be distributed in South Africa and neighbouring countries.
"There is a need in the local market and sub-Saharan Africa for another South African ARV manufacturer. Research shows that between 1500 and 1700 new infections occur every day in South Africa and more than 5,5million South Africans are HIV positive.
"The issue of HIV-Aids cannot be ignored and, as a responsible corporate citizen, we are committed to assisting those in need," he added.