Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Small U.S. Pharmaceutical Firm Establishes $250 Million AIDS Fund to Deliver Drugs to Africa
Phtyo-Riker, a small U.S. pharmaceutical firm, announced on Wednesday that it will create a $250 million fund to purchase antiretroviral drugs and distribute them for free in Africa, where "price and infrastructure are huge barriers to keeping patients healthy," Reuters/Excite.com reports. Backed by the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the government of
Ghana and the Congressional Black Caucus, Phyto-Riker intends to buy discounted antiHIV drugs from big pharmaceutical companies and deliver them to African governments that will then distribute the drugs to selected clinics. Phyto-Riker President Kennon Brennen signed a memorandum Wednesday for $250 million in loan guarantees with Export-Import Bank Chair James Harmon and Ghana Health Minister Dr. Richard Anane. Brennen said that the $250 million could help approximately 2.5% of HIV-positive Africans access drugs. He added that this number "could be built on once the program was shown to be a success." Brennen plans to raise the money from not-for-profit organizations, international agencies and drug makers. "Our company has been in Africa operating for about three years and bought the largest pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Ghana," he said, adding, "We have learned how to ship to 18 countries to date in Africa ... We learned about pricing. So we find ourselves in a position to be able to solve the logistical problems." Brennen noted that Kenya, Uganda, Senegal and Zimbabwe have expressed "strong interest" in the program, and that he has spoken to GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Merck & Co. and Pfizer about purchasing discounted drugs (Fox, Reuters/Excite.com, 2/28). Anane said that the fund "could be a solution to the whole Africa problem." The deal is part of a $1 billion program organized by the Export-Import Bank to support the fight against AIDS in Africa (English, Newsday, 3/1).
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