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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has removed two generic HIV drugs made in India from its list of medicines approved for use by United Nations agencies. It is the first time that drugs have been dropped from the approved list in this way.

The drugs — lamivudine (3TC) and zidovudine (AZT) — were found to have inadequate paperwork to prove they were biologically equivalent to the patented drugs.

Cipla, the Indian pharmaceutical firm that makes the two drugs expects them to be back on the approved list within coming weeks. And a WHO official has stated that he doesn't expect the problem to interfere with the organisation's plans to treat three million, mostly African, people with HIV by next year.

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