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[e-drug] Donated fluconazole stolen in Uganda

  • Subject: [e-drug] Donated fluconazole stolen in Uganda
  • From: [email protected]
  • Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2002 06:16:09 -0400 (EDT)

E-DRUG: Donated fluconazole stolen in Uganda
[it was bound to happen: fluconazole sells for up to USD 12 per capsule in
the private sector, but are donated for free by Pfizer to developing
countries to be used for cryptococcal meningitis treatment/secondary
prevention and oesophageal candidiasis in AIDS patients in government
clinics. The donated drugs are tablets, whereas the private sector drugs
are capsules. Pfizer had insisted on special precautions in distribution
systems. Sad if healthworkers are involved, and sad for the many AIDS
patients needing the fluconazole to survive.

In South Africa fluconazole is stored and distributed as a narcotic drug
(with the morphone). Anyway, let's hope that the donation does not dry up.

The fluconazole patent has meanwhile expired in most countries, so why
doesn't the private sector buy generic fluconazole at USD 0.10-0.20 per

Crossposted from AF-AIDS with thanks; WB]

HIV/Aids Drugs for Needy Stolen -AEGIS

HIV/Aids Drugs for Needy Stolen
By Geoffrey Kamali
New Vision (Kampala)

September 24, 2002-Even the plight of a helpless AIDS patient is not
enough to move a thief to tears.In Kampala, the Police have unearthed a
racket which has stolen massive amounts of recently donated life support
AIDS drugs.

The Diflucan tablets were for free distribution to poor HIV/AIDS patients.
They were stolen from various health centres nationwide in collusion with
health workers and passed on to private pharmacies and clinics for sale.
The main suspects are believed to be health workers entrusted with the
administration of the drugs. Fifteen suspects have been arrested and will
be charged this week.The scam is suspected to have led to the deaths of
hundreds of patients nationwide in the last seven months.

About 290,000 Diflucan tablets produced by giant US pharmaceutical company
Pfizer Inc. were donated to Uganda in February. Each bottle contains 28
pink tablets and is clearly marked, "Donation Programme- Not For Sale.
Uganda, South Africa, Mozambique and Rwanda are the beneficiaries of the

The scam was first detected by Pfizer officials in Washington, who tipped
off Kampala officials, sources said. Diflucan is an effective treatment
for two opportunistic infections, cryptococcal meningitis (swelling of the
brain) and Oesphageal Candidiasis (infection of the throat), linked to the
last stages of AIDS.

The former is said to occur in 10% of all AIDS patients and is fatal
within days if untreated while the latter reportedly occurs in up to 40%
of the patients. Health minister Brig. Jim Muhwezi told reporters at a
press conference in Kampala on Friday that the drugs were distributed to
110 health facilities but were diverted by "some unscrupulous people."

Each tablet is sold for sh3,000 - 10,000. Muhwezi said, "This isvery
serious. It's a shame. It's scary to imagine what people out there
(donors), who are concerned about our suffering, think what type of people
we are." When undercover detectives, led by anti-fraud squad chief Dennis
Odongpiny, posed as buyers, they not only purchased a total of 106
tablets, but also arrested 15 suspects who were paraded before the press
on Friday. The 18 bottles of the tablets seized from the suspects were
also shown to reporters.

But one of the suspects, Robert Ssegawa, said, "They have arrested the
wrong people. I can assure you that we are the smallfish. "We are
sacrificial lambs. The big fish are still out there." Ssegawa is
proprietor of Recos Pharmacy in Kampala, one of the outlets where some of
the drugs were seized.

Muhwezi said, "I am directing the National Drug Authority and professional
councils to take appropriate action on pharmacies concerned, including
disciplinary action on their owners." The suspected pharmacies include
Recos, Desire, Pharmatec, Mercy, Pharm Medic, Pelez-Ma and Duse, all in
Kampala. Others are Mwesigwa and Amaph pharmacies in Jinja.

Source: AEGIS (http://ww2.aegis.org/news/nv/2002/NV020913.html)

A posting from AF-AIDS ([email protected])

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