Several Defense Contractors To Apply for $7B PEPFAR Grant To Supply HIV/AIDS Drugs to Developing Countries, NPR Reports
Several defense contractors, including Northrop Grumman -- the second-largest government defense contractor and manufacturer of the stealth bomber -- are considering a bid for a $7 billion grant from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to supply antiretroviral drugs to developing countries, NPR's "Morning Edition" reports (Wilson, "Morning Edition," NPR, 10/14). PEPFAR is a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding to 12 African nations -- Botswana, Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia -- as well as Haiti, Guyana and Vietnam (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/22). NPR reports that the Bush administration currently is soliciting proposals for the "largest contract for international health services ever" to develop a supply system that would "quickly scale up" the delivery of "vast quantities" of HIV/AIDS medications and medical supplies to two million people in the 15 countries. Although none of the companies considering a bid on the contract would comment on record with NPR, Carl Stecker, director of AIDS treatment programs for Catholic Relief Services, said his agency has been visited by several defense contractors. Stecker added that large-scale supply chain management projects, such as purchasing and transporting millions of dollars worth of drugs to remote clinics, are logistically "way out of the ... league" of many relief agencies. Dr. Mark Dybul, an AIDS researcher at NIH and chief medical officer of PEPFAR, said that a final version of the request for proposals on the contract, which would provide $7 billion over five years to procure, track and transport HIV/AIDS drugs, is expected to be issued next week. Although some HIV/AIDS advocates are not surprised that defense companies are interested in the contract, some question whether large defense contractors "are the right ones for the job" and are "troubled" by the prospect of working with some of the defense companies, NPR reports ("Morning Edition," NPR, 10/14).
The complete NPR segment, which includes comments from Jean McGuire, former director of the HIV/AIDS Bureau for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and a professor at Bouve College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University, and Stephen Morrison, director of Africa programs for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is available online in RealPlayer.