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Pharma majors gear to supply anti-anthrax drug

The panic that has gripped the U.S with anthrax bacterial infections coming to light has led to an increased demand for the drug used in its treatment - Ciprofloxacin. Already there is news that the German pharma major Bayer is tripling its production of Ciprofloxacin to cater to the burgeoning demand and will supply 200 million tablets in the next three months. In fact, Bayer holds the U.S. patents on the most common forms of Ciprofloxacin and these expire on December 9, 2003. //

Ranbaxy Laboratories produces both the bulk and formulation forms of ciprofloxacin and according to a company spokesman, the U.S. Senator, Mr. Charles Schumer, has approached Ranbaxy's U.S. arm, Ranbaxy Laboratories Inc. regarding supply of Cipro in large numbers - Mr. Schumer had asked Ranbaxy for a supply of 20 million tablets a month of Ciprofloxacin for anthrax treatment starting December. The treatment for anthrax entails one ciprofloxacin twice a day and the U.S. Government wants to purchase enough Ciprofloxacin to cover 12 million patients for 60 days.

Ranbaxy is among the few Indian companies with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) approval for the manufacture of Ciprofloxacin. The Mumbai-based Cipla, which is also approved by the U.S. FDA, has also offered to supply large quantities of Ciprofloxacin, the active ingredient of Cipro to a generic producer in the U.S.

Ciprofloxacin is a U.S. FDA wide spectrum antibiotic for the treatment of anthrax and belongs to the fluoroquinolone class of drugs which has a global market of $3.85 billion and is reportedly growing at 16 percent per annum. In India, Ciprofloxacin is the second largest molecule after Amoxycillin.


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