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[e-drug] Uganda NMS re-selling discounted ARVs?

E-DRUG: Uganda NMS re-selling discounted ARVs?
[this message dates back to 15 May; anyone in Uganda who can tell how this
Should discounted drugs be allowed to be resold (and thus probably be
re-imported into high-priced countries)? WB]

Uganda: Wrangle over state firm's plans to re-sell AIDS drugs for export

The National Medical Stores (NMS), is in advanced stages of re-selling for
export a consignment of AIDS drugs imported from the United Kingdom at
subsidized rates. The deal, which involves the sale of 700 Combivir and
about  1,300 packs of other HIV drugs (anti-retrovirals), is going ahead
despite the  Inspector-General of Government (IGG's) objection. The initial
consignment is  worth over (pounds) 50,000 (about 150m shillings). The
anti-retroviral drugs are  being sold to Landmark Pharmaceuticals (U) Ltd.,
a private company registered in  Uganda. The IGG had asked NMS to stop the
transaction "because it is not viable  and likely to have negative effects
on Uganda". But NMS officials, including  Robert Rutaagi the general
manager, insist it is a lucrative and clean deal  which NMS, the state-owned
company, cannot abandon. NMS is buying the drugs from  GlaxoSmithKline
(GSK), a leading British company. The 16-member NMS board headed  by Prof
W.W. Anokbonggo is opposed to the deal. "It is sad some top officials in
the Ministry of Health are frustrating our efforts to stop this deal," said
a  board source. The New Vision has seen March and April 2003 correspondence
from  Landmark Pharmaceuticals to NMS, giving details of the transaction. On
April 11,  two Landmark officials reportedly met NMS bosses over the deal.
Records show it  all started on 18 March 2002, when NMS contracted Landmark
to offer procurement  advisory services and to negotiate for drug prices in
Europe. The deal  stipulated that after NMS has bought the drugs and loaded
a margin on the cost  price, Landmark, which is mainly interested in
HIV/AIDS anti-retrovirals, would  then buy them from NMS, re-export and
re-sell the drugs elsewhere. Landmark has  fronted Eris Ltd, a local drug
firm, to buy the drugs from NMS on its behalf.  The buyer would then decide
where to sell them. Local medical experts fear the  deal may cause serious
problems to Uganda which imports the drugs at subsidized  prices. "What will
happen suppose tomorrow it is found out the drugs NMS sold to  Eris or
Landmark are re-exported and sold in Europe or elsewhere?" asked one
doctor. Health officials said Uganda might be blacklisted internationally
and  could lose the chance to buy subsidized drugs. Health State Minister
Mike  Mukula, told The New Vision that the ministry would intervene in the
current  wrangle between Rutaagi and the corporation secretary, Asuman
Kiyingi. He said  he was not aware of the drugs deal...

Source: The New Vision web site, Kampala, in English 15 May 03
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