Tanzania to Expel Two South Africans For Importing ‘Controversial’ AIDS Drug
The Tanzanian government has ordered two South Africans, charged with illegally importing the "controversial" AIDS drug Virodene PO 58 and four other drugs, to leave the country by Saturday, the Dar es Salaam Daily News reports. According to Tomric News Agency/AllAfrica.com, Jacques Siegfried Visser and Khamalo Bafana are employed by Virodene Pharmaceutical Limited of South Africa, which has been conducting "disputed" clinical trials of Virodene PO 58 at the Lugalo Military Hospital in Dar es Salaam without the approval of the National Institute for Medical Research. The two South Africans were arrested in July, and Pharmacy Board inspectors confiscated and impounded all documents relating to the drugs, as well as any remaining batches of PO 58, which was banned in South Africa in 1997. The drug has failed to prove effective in clinical tests in Great Britain and Germany, where it was determined that the drug was a derivative of the industrial solvent dimethylformamide (DMF), a finding that was met with "widespread public outcry" in Tanzania (Tomric News Agency/AllAfrica.com, 9/5). Visser maintained that institute approval was not necessary because his group had "worked closely" with the Tanzanian military and police to test the drug on 64 HIV patients. He added that the trial, held in Dar es Salaam between September 2000 and March 2001, was "properly approved" and "conducted with the highest ethical standards" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/15). According to Tomric News Agency/AllAfrica.com, after failing to win approval for PO 58, Virodene also imported the drugs PO 59, PO 60, PO 61 and PO 62, none of which were registered with the Tanzanian Pharmacy Board (Tomric News Agency/AllAfrica.com, 9/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.