Kenyan Law Allowing Importation, Manufacture of Generic AIDS Drugs Takes Effect
A Kenyan law that allows the importation and manufacture of generic antiretroviral drugs took effect on May 1, BBC News reports (Matheson, BBC News, 5/1). Last June, the Kenyan Parliament passed the Industrial Properties Bill 2001, a measure that allows Kenya to suspend drug patents during a national health emergency. The law stipulates that Kenya must give drug manufacturers six months' notice before licensing other companies to import or produce generic versions of patented drugs Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/13/01). The India-based pharmaceutical company Cosmos International has already produced generic versions of antiretroviral drugs, but it will have to wait at least six months until the medicines are licensed. Many AIDS activists believe that the law is only the "first step" in Kenya's fight against HIV/AIDS. According to the BBC News, the country's bureaucracy is "painfully slow," and Cosmos Director Prakash Patel said that he would like to see a fast-track licensing process for "essential medicines" such as AIDS drugs. But overall activists are pleased with the implementation of the law and say that it will lead to wider drug access. Sophie-Marie Scouflaire of Medecins Sans Frontieres said that charities operating mission hospitals will now be able to afford antiretrovirals, and a growing number of middle-class Kenyans will be able to obtain them as well (BBC News, 5/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.