Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
European Police Broaden Investigation Into Diversion of AIDS Drugs From African Nations
GlaxoSmithKline officials said Thursday that police in Europe are broadening their investigation into how discounted AIDS drugs earmarked for African nations were diverted back to Europe to be sold at higher prices, Reuters Health reports. Law enforcement officials in the Netherlands and Germany had been investigating the activity, but a Glaxo spokesperson said that police forces in several other countries are now involved in the inquiry. The spokesperson declined to identify the nations involved and did not disclose specific details regarding the investigation (Woodman, Reuters Health, 10/10). Glaxo estimates that 28 shipments of Combivir, Epivir and Trizivir were diverted by European wholesalers from Africa to markets in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom between July 2001 and July 2002. The 28 shipments comprised three million doses of the drugs and had an estimated retail value of $18 million; they were intended for distribution in five central African nations (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/3). The Dutch government earlier this month recalled supplies of Combivir and Epivir after learning of the fraud. The Glaxo spokesperson said that the drugs diverted from Africa would be replaced and that additional safeguards would be implemented to ensure that the medicines arrived at their intended destinations. He stated that the company will speak with the European Medicines Evaluation Agency to develop new packaging that would distinguish discounted drugs slated for developing nations from medicines meant to be sold in wealthier countries. The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations has said that to cut down on fraud, governments must also look at customs procedures, sanctions and tracking procedures for products (Reuters Health, 10/10).
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