Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Pfizer to Fund AIDS Treatment Training Clinic in Uganda
Pfizer Inc. will spend $11 million for the construction and operation of a clinic in Kampala, Uganda, to train physicians in AIDS treatment, the physician coalition Academic Alliance for AIDS Care and Prevention in Africa is expected to announce on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reports. The clinic, slated to open late this year or early in 2002, will instruct 80 African physicians per year in four-week sessions, with the health care providers expected to "spread the lessons to their colleagues upon their return home." Nelson Sewankambo, dean of the Makerere Medical School, where the clinic will be located, and founding member of the coalition, said, "We will be able to train the physicians, nurses and hopefully laboratory technicians, and all this would contribute to the quality of care." The training will feature special emphasis on the proper use of
antiretroviral drugs, which can be toxic or can quickly lead to resistant strains of HIV when used incorrectly. Such danger has fueled the reluctance of international drug giants to offer discounts on the drugs in Africa, the Journal reports. Program organizers currently are negotiating with other drug makers to provide medicine for the clinic. Pfizer Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs Lou Clemente said, "We think that Pfizer and the industry should do more than provide drugs for free or at discounts," adding that drug firms should help "tackle the obstacles of infrastructure and weak medical systems." ACT UP/New York founder Eric Sawyer said, "While it's late in coming, it's good news." He noted that drug makers "have a responsibility to educate and train physicians and to help build infrastructure in the developing world in the same way they've done that in the United States." On Wednesday, Pfizer announced that it intends to expand the distribution of donated Diflucan, an antifungal medication used to treat infections in HIV/AIDS patients, to approximately 40 developing nations (Hensley, Wall Street Journal, 6/8).
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