Kenya Begins Receiving Free Nevirapine Through Boehringer Ingelheim Program
The Kenyan government yesterday received its first free shipment of nevirapine from pharmaceutical manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim, after "accusations and counter-accusations" between government officials and the company delayed the drugs' supply, the East African Standard reports (Wangusi, East African Standard, 5/23). Boehringer Ingelheim in July 2000 announced that it would supply Viramune, its brand of nevirapine, free-of-charge to developing nations to reduce the risk of vertical HIV transmission (Viramune Donation Program Web site, 5/23). Kenyan parliamentarians last year criticized the Ministry of Health for "dragging its feet" when applying for the drug program. Public Health Minister Sam Ongeri responded that the delay was due to a request by Boehringer Ingelheim that the company be the sole provider of nevirapine for five years. The drug company, however, denied Ongeri's claim and countered that the firm instead required that the government have a "proper distribution, monitoring and evaluation infrastructure" in place before it supplied the free drugs. Joseph Saba, CEO of Axios International, which developed the application process, said that the process "allows us to help determine how many mothers they can serve, and to overcome obstacles, such as import licenses and duties, that had been in the way" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/7/01). Christopher Imbaya, Boehringer Ingelheim's Team Leader in Kenya, said they had plans to "immediately" distribute the drugs, which, when taken during the second trimester of pregnancy, can prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission in more than 50% of cases (East African Standard, 5/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.