Wall Street Journal Claims About WHO, Global Fund Treatment Guidelines ‘Wrong,’ Letter to Editor Says
The Wall Street Journal in a Jan. 21 editorial on the malaria treatment program run by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the World Health Organization made "numerous errors," Jack Chow, assistant director of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria at WHO, and Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund, write in a Journal letter to the editor. The editorial referred to an article in the Lancet, which claimed that WHO and the Global Fund recommended and financed the purchase of ineffective malaria drugs. However, the Global Fund -- with WHO guidance -- is "financing one of the fastest shifts to new and better treatment regimens ever implemented in the developing world," Chow and Feachem say. Although such drugs changes usually take "five to 15 years," the Global Fund and WHO are already helping countries in Africa switch to the "new, more effective artemisinin-based combination therapy," according to Chow and Feachem (Chow/Feachem, Wall Street Journal, 1/26). The editorial also claimed that the Global Fund and WHO "frown on patent law and would rather employ off-patent medicines or cheap knockoffs," even though the "whole purpose of the Global Fund is to pay for the more expensive treatments that poor countries can't afford" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/21). That assertion is "wrong," Chow and Feachem say, adding that the organizations have a "straightforward policy regarding [their] recommendations on which medicines to use: It matters most that medicines are safe, effective and affordable, rather than who manufactures them" (Wall Street Journal, 1/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.