E.U. officials unveil plan to regulate shipping of AIDS drugs

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 02 2002 1:00 AM ET

European Union officials unveiled a plan Wednesday to ensure that discounted anti-HIV drugs intended for delivery to developing nations are not diverted to wealthy nations and sold at higher prices. Under the new proposal, pharmaceutical companies will register and place logos on shipments of discounted drugs for developing countries that specifically label the medications as banned for reimportation into Europe.

The E.U. plan was developed after customs officials discovered that up to 28 shipments containing about 3 million doses of GlaxoSmithKline's anti-HIV drugs Combivir, Epivir, and Trizivir were diverted by European wholesalers from Africa and sold in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom between July 2001 and July 2002. The drugs were intended for distribution in five central African nations.

At least four European countries have launched investigations into the drug fraud. The drug labeling and packaging proposal has been approved by the European Commission, and the governments of individual E.U. member nations are expected to adopt the plan by the end of the year.