Days after linking up with Gilead Sciences to make cheap HIV generics, Mylan has started commercial operations in India with the launch of 18 antiretrovirals for the treatment of the disease.

The US generics major notes that India is home to the world's third largest population of people with HIV/AIDS, with 2.4 million people living with the disease, of which fewer than 20% have access to treatment. Mylan says it will have one of the largest field forces exclusively specialising in HIV/AIDS in India.

Mylan chief executive Heather Bresch said the firm "can set a new standard in the treatment of HIV/AIDS in India by providing healthcare providers and those living with the disease access to high quality, affordable medicines and by supporting physicians in their efforts to educate and treat their patients". She added that "we see significant growth potential in India, the world's second largest pharmaceutical market by volume, and look forward to continuing to expand our operations in India in additional therapeutic categories".

In August 2006. Mylan spent about $736 million for an up-to-71.5% stake in Indian drugmaker Matrix Laboratories and went on to fully acquire the Hyderabad-based group. Last week, Mylan and Indian drugmakers Ranbaxy Laboratories and Strides Arcolab signed a deal with Gilead Sciences to promote access to "high-quality, low-cost generic versions" of the US firm's HIV drug Emtriva (emtricitabine) in developing countries.