The US is blocking the importation of more than 30 drugs from Ranbaxy's plants in Paonta Sahib and Dewas, under an American programme to supply medicines to developing countries after the US cited the company for violations in two of its plants. Drugs made in other Ranbaxy plants aren't being blocked. The Paonta Sahib plant makes the three drugs that are part of the AIDS programme.

The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief suspended funding for three Ranbaxy generic drugs until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says deficiencies have been resolved in one of the plants in India where they're produced, a spokeswoman for the programme said yesterday.

The programme provided $8.9 million for Ranbaxy's AIDS drugs last fiscal year, according to the spokeswoman. The FDA said on September 16 that more than 30 generic drugs made by Ranbaxy, India's largest drugmaker, would be blocked at US borders because of manufacturing failures at the two Indian plants. Ranbaxy declined 27 per cent in Mumbai trading after the FDA's action through today.

"Funds cannot be used to support new orders'' for the three Ranbaxy drugs – zidovudine, lamivudine and nevirapine – manufactured at one of the plants in India, according to an e-mail from the AIDS programme's spokeswoman. She provided the information on the condition that her name not be used, citing policies of the State Department, which runs the initiative.

Charles M Caprariello, a spokesman for Ranbaxy, said he didn't have firsthand knowledge of the government's decision and couldn't comment.

Ranbaxy is working with the US government "to resolve all of the issues and concerns that have been raised,'' Caprariello said in a telephone interview. Shares of Ranbaxy fell Rs 15.2, or 4.9 per cent, to Rs 296.1 in Mumbai trading. The shares closed at Rs 403.2 before the FDA's announcement on September 16. There is no evidence that Ranbaxy's medicines are harmful, though the violations could lead to defective products, according to the FDA.

Although the FDA's action applies only to the US market, the government decided to suspend funding for the AIDS drugs supplied overseas. It is a ''principle'' of the president's AIDS initiative to ''meet standards equal to those established for patients in the US,'' the programme's spokeswoman said. Indian drugmakers Aurobindo Pharma of Hyderabad and Cipla of Mumbai are among companies that have been cleared by the US to supply the three AIDS drugs under the government programme, according to the FDA's Web site. The programme plans to provide $1.9 billion in support of anti-retroviral treatment programmes for AIDS during this fiscal year according to the programme spokeswoman.