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FW: [187] Millions of dollars lost in expired AIDS drug scam (Zim babwe)

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  • Bell, Elizabeth
    Message 1 of 1 , May 28 6:01 AM
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      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: Parker, Kathleen
      > Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 1999 1:39 PM
      > To: Irwin, Kathleen; 'Nancy McCharen'; Campbell, Carl; Painter, Thomas;
      > Bell, Elizabeth; Duckworth, Melanie A.; Nieburg, Phil; Imara, Hiari;
      > Davis, Shirley; Housworth, Cynthia; Joesoef, Riduan; Ryan, Caroline;
      > Schmid, George
      > Subject: FW: [187] Millions of dollars lost in expired AIDS drug scam
      > (Zimbabwe)
      > Sounds like a scam that could have origins in one of two African countries
      > - that will remain unnamed. KP
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: AF-AIDS [SMTP:af-aids@...]
      > Sent: Thursday, May 13, 1999 9:06 AM
      > To: af-aids@...
      > Subject: [187] Millions of dollars lost in expired AIDS drug scam
      > (Zimbabwe)
      > Millions of dollars lost in expired AIDS drug scam
      > Zimbabwe Financial Gazette
      > Thursday 6 May, 1999
      > Staff Reporter
      > Desperate HIV-positive Zimbabweans and others seeking to boost their
      > immunity may be losing millions of dollars annually through a possible
      > racket under which an expired drug known to reduce or reverse the
      > replication of the deadly virus is being imported into the country with
      > false expiry dates, the Financial Gazette learnt this week.
      > Thousands of Zimbabweans are understood to be on the drug while there are
      > some known cases of people who have already died while using the
      > medication, raising suspicions that they may have used the expired
      > capsules. Some Harare-based pharmacists said yesterday they were aware of
      > the possible racket and had already returned some consignments to the two
      > main wholesalers of the drug, popularly known as AZT and whose registered
      > brand name is Retrovir. The actual name of the drug is azathiomydine.
      > The drug, despite being expensive, is popular in Zimbabwe and, according
      > to some pharmacists, total annual sales could be as high as $1 billion. A
      > month's course of about 180 capsules costs between $6 000 and $8 000 and
      > some patients are known to take the drug for up to three months.
      > According to official statistics, one in every 10 Zimbabweans is infected
      > with the killer HIV virus which causes AIDS and an average 1 000 lives are
      > lost a week through AIDS-related diseases.
      > The Financial Gazette was yesterday shown some samples of the drug in
      > small bottles which had stickers indicating that the capsules would expire
      > in 2002. On peeling the label, there was another underneath which some
      > pharmacists said indicated the true expiry date of November 1999.
      > "We are not sure where all this is being done but we suspect that the
      > anti-viral is expiring in some parts of Europe and countries like South
      > Africa, where consumers are more fussy about their medication, and where
      > the false expiry date labels are printed en masse and stuck on top of the
      > genuine ones," said one Harare pharmacist who did not want to be named.
      > Another said: "What is really worrying and is giving away the whole racket
      > is that it is known worldwide that the drug has a shelf life of only two
      > years, a fact that we have confirmed with the Medicines Control Authority
      > here, yet we have consignments which show that the drug will expire in the
      > year 2003, some four years away.
      > "We have alerted the Medicines Control Authority and taken some samples to
      > them but there has been no feedback up to now. We told them about six
      > months ago." There are two companies said to be importing the drug into
      > the country. When asked for comment yesterday, an official of one of them
      > referred this newspaper to yet another firm which he said was responsible
      > for the imports. Efforts to get comment from that firm were unsuccessful.
      > The Financial Gazette also tried unsuccessfully to get comment from the
      > Ministry of Health. Health Minister Timothy Stamps was reported to be in
      > meetings all day.
      > AZT is one of the drugs used in what is now known as the triple therapy
      > for HIV/AIDS, which means that it is used together with two other drugs
      > and the cocktail is said to be effective in reducing the multiplication of
      > the virus.
      > The drug is widely available in Zimbabwe and a snap survey conducted by
      > this newspaper in Harare yesterday found that several pharmacies stocked
      > it.
      > (Thanks to the UN Foundation for this lead)
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