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[e-drug] US firm to supply free Aids drugs in Africa (?)

E-DRUG: US firm to supply free Aids drugs in Africa (?)
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[This Reuters press release appeared in the Star, a South African newspaper,
on 28 Feb 2001. Sounds good but weird: why would a company donate USD 250m
worth of ARVs to Africa but need loan guarantees from the US Import-Export
Bank? The latter offered loans up to USD 1 billion some months ago, but 
most African governments did not want to borrow money and then buy drugs
at high prices. What's the catch? Anyone in Ghana who knows more about
this project? Copied as fair use.  NN]

Washington - A small United States firm said on Wednesday it was creating a
R1,9-billion fund to buy Aids drugs and distribute them free in Africa, where 
price and
infrastructure were huge barriers to keeping patients healthy. 

The company, Phyto-Riker, said it had the backing of the US Export-Import Bank,
the government of Ghana and members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the
effort. 

"We realise the African governments cannot pay for the medicine at any price," 
said
Kennon Brennen, president and chief executive officer of Phyto-Riker. 

Brennen was scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday for
$250-million (about R1,92-billion) in loan guarantees with Export-Import Bank
chairperson James Harmon and Ghanaian Health Minister Dr Richard Anane. 

He said he believed he could break down suspicions that
African countries had about foreign companies offering free
drugs to their people. 

For example, in December, after months of negotiations,
South Africa approved the free distribution of Pfizer's drug Diflucan, used to 
treat
fungal infections in HIV patients. 

Reuters


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