French Authorities Question Man in Connection With Illegal Importation of Antiretroviral Drugs Into Europe From African Nations
French magistrates have begun questioning a man in connection with the illegal importation into Europe of antiretroviral drugs earmarked for developing nations, Reuters Health reports (Reuters Health, 11/13). Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline estimates that 28 shipments of Combivir, Epivir and Trizivir, consisting of approximately three million doses worth about $18 million, were diverted from Africa to markets in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom between July 2001 and July 2002 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/29). According to Le Parisien, a judge is questioning a French businessman who is suspected of coordinating the drug trafficking. A spokesperson for the French branch of GlaxoSmithKline said on Tuesday that the company had filed a report with French authorities but would not give details of the case. The magistrate will determine whether or not to pursue the case against the man (Reuters Health, 11/13). Officials suspect that "a whole chain of businesses and individuals [are] involved" in the scheme, including organizations or individuals in the African countries where the drugs were meant to be distributed (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.