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Global Fund Investigates Allegations That Donated Malaria Drugs Were Stolen, Resold In Some African Countries

After recent research found that some donated malaria drugs are being stolen and sold commercially in several African countries, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Communications Director Joe Liden said the group is looking into the situation “in a number of countries,” PBS’ NewsHour’s blog, “The Rundown” reports.

“There have been anecdotes about stolen drugs as long as there have been donated drugs in Africa,” according to Liden. “This is not a new thing at all, but we have had some more clear or concrete allegations – though so far not substantiated – in the last months that has led us to start a full investigation of these issues,” Liden said.

“The Global Fund will not comment on the scale of the ongoing investigation and would not reveal the countries involved,” the blog notes. “Liden said the Global Fund is taking steps to address the root cause of malaria drug theft – that the highest-quality malaria medications can garner high profits in the private sector. Artemisinin combination drugs would now cost between $6 and $10 on the private market in most African countries, but the group is working to reduce that to 40 cents through a new initiative,” The Rundown writes.

“What we have organized through this initiative is to reduce the prices almost 80 percent from the producers and then add money from the Global Fund to make sure the prices become competitive with the older cheaper medications that no longer work,” he said. “In that way, we will not only give medications to all those that need it we will take away incentive for this theft.”

Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute, coauthor of last week’s report documenting the stolen malaria drugs, “acknowledged that the sample size for the study was small, and that the actual scale of the problem ‘may be less significant’ than the research indicates,” the blog writes. “What we don’t know is the scale,” Bate said. “But what I can tell you is it’s worse now than it was before [when we started].” According to the blog, Bate “and the other researchers are calling for improved oversight to stem theft and warned that failure to impose better controls could lead to stock-outs of necessary medications at hospitals and clinics” (Miller, 9/4).

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