Medicines for All Institute and South African manufacturer enter partnership to improve access to lifesaving medications

The Medicines for All Institute has entered into a partnership with a manufacturer in South Africa to commercialize advances made by the institute to improve access to lifesaving medications for HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

The institute, which has successfully developed cost-saving formulas for key anti-HIV drugs, is based at Virginia Commonwealth University and its College of Engineering in Richmond, Virginia. 

Officials at VCU and Chemical Process Technologies Pharma Ltd. recently signed a three-year agreement outlining their collaboration. The South African company will validate and scale up processes developed by Medicines for All and serve as a test site for increased production. The institute will work with the company to develop new processes and technologies.

Three people standing outside of a building.
From left: Gerrit van der Klashorst, Ph.D., CPT Pharma director of business development, Perrer Tosso, Ph.D., and Hannes Malan, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy VCU College of Engineering)

“We see this as a beneficial collaboration for both parties,” said Perrer Tosso, Ph.D., global innovation manager for Medicines for All. The institute seeks to have its processes implemented in low-income countries, especially in Africa. CPT Pharma does not have to start from scratch to develop new processes. “The manufacturer has the opportunity to adopt our processes and carry them through commercialization,” he said.

Both partners hope the cooperation will lead to lower drug costs in the local market — and ultimately, the global market.

CPT Pharma, based in Waltloo, Pretoria, South Africa, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chemical Process Technologies, which has been manufacturing animal health products and animal health active pharmaceutical ingredients since 2001. In 2014, CPT began expanding its business into human health. With support from South African government agencies, it opened a four-story pilot plant in Pretoria in 2017 to manufacture generic active pharmaceutical ingredients. 

Hannes Malan, Ph.D., managing director of CPT Pharma, said he was intrigued when he heard about the institute’s groundbreaking work on the anti-HIV medication nevirapine. South Africa is home to the world’s largest AIDS epidemic and relies on medications that are imported. 

“Medicines for All’s vision of improving access to lifesaving medications by developing and commercializing technology could help make the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals in Africa a reality,” Malan said. 

Malan’s company focuses on chemical process development and technology commercialization. “We understand the challenges of taking a reaction,” and deploying the final major step to scale it up, he said. “We’re extremely excited about the opportunity.”

During the technology transfer process, VCU will host South African doctoral students and researchers in Richmond and send its researchers to South Africa. 

CPT Pharma’s pilot plant was developed with funding from the state-owned Industrial Development Corp., which seeks to spur sustainable economic growth in South Africa and Africa.

“It is anticipated that commercializing processes developed by [Medicines for All] in South Africa will improve the security of the supply of priority drugs, and create the institutional capacity to develop a local [active pharmaceutical ingredients] manufacturing industry,” said Nelis Geyer, industry development champion for chemical products and pharmaceuticals at Industrial Development Corp. 

One goal of the institute is to reduce global dependence on a few manufacturers while empowering other countries to be self-sufficient in providing high-quality health care to their own citizens.

The institute is also working with the Ivory Coast government to train researchers and develop high-quality pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities in the West African country.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Thirty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.

About Medicines for All

The Medicines for All Institute operates under the auspices of the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Engineering. The institute’s mission is to improve access to affordable, high­quality medicines. This is done by lowering the cost of medications, both in market and in development, as well as enhancing the security of supply chains for these essential medications. Medicines for All accomplishes its mission by reducing the cost of active pharmaceutical ingredients — a major cost driver in treating infectious diseases in the developing world. Visit  medicines4all.vcu.edu.