Romanian Government Launches Corruption Inquiry Into ‘Grossly Inflated’ Antiretroviral Drug Prices
The Romanian government has launced an investigation into the country's health ministry following allegations made by U.S. Ambassador Michael Guest that antiretroviral drugs were being sold at "grossly inflated prices," AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Guest last week said that antiretroviral drugs were being sold in Romania at prices 50% higher than in the United States and that the ministry had engaged in corrupt dealings with drug suppliers. A report released by a government watchdog agency said that the ministry had ignored an agreement made with GlaxoSmithKline to reduce the price of its antiretroviral drugs by up to 87% (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/19). GSK and the health ministry in January 2002 signed the agreement, which health officials said would increase access to the drugs by 50% and could reduce the ministry's expenses by $9.7 million (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/15/2002). The report alleged that the health ministry denied drug importation contracts to foreign companies and instead granted them to four Romanian companies that levied "taxes and commissions worth up to 55% of the value of the drugs." Romania currently has 7,904 reported AIDS cases, including 6,200 cases among children under the age of 14. Aid organizations say that one-third of AIDS patients receive regular antiretroviral treatment, which the ministry claims is too expensive (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.