Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
U.N. Wire Profiles Der Spiegel Article on Growing Antiretroviral Drug Black Market in Africa
U.N. Wire on Wednesday profiled an article in Germany's Der Spiegel magazine focusing on the increasing prevalence in Africa of black market antiretroviral drugs and so-called "healing remedies," which are "often ... toxic or ineffective." Many of the drugs -- which include combination drugs, such as Cipla's Triomune and GlaxoSmithKline's Combivir, as well as Bristol Myers-Squibb's Videx and Zerit -- are stolen from hospitals or manufacturers or are obtained through "dubious imports," Der Spiegel said, according to U.N. Wire. In addition, "crooked medicine men" selling "bogus remedies" have become prevalent on the continent, according to Der Spiegel, U.N. Wire reports. South African police arrested one man for charging HIV-positive people $4,763 for a supposed AIDS therapy that involved placing patients in glass coffins. In addition, some HIV/AIDS patients in Swaziland have taken "Oxycel drops," which some people say claim can cure AIDS. "The papers are full of these stories," Cape Town, South Africa, HIV/AIDS specialist Dr. Ashraf Grimwood said, adding, "One promises snake oil as a remedy, the next 'African potatoes' prepared with olive oil and garlic. ... The problem is desperation" (Thielke, Der Spiegel - U.N. Wire translation, 4/13). South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang in the past has said that antiretrovirals are "poison" and that a combination of garlic, onions, olive oil and African potatoes would strengthen the immune systems of people living with HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/11/03).
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