EU clamps down on trade in cheap drugs meant for Africa
- By: Rory Watson
The European Union is taking measures to prevent low cost drugs intended for patients in some of the world's poorest countries from being diverted and resold for huge profits in the West.
By clamping down on the illegal trade in reimported drugs that undercuts standard European prices, the EU is hoping to encourage pharmaceutical companies to expand the trend of making medicines available at special rates to the developing world.
The initiative comes amid growing evidence that cut price drugs are being diverted onto the European market. Recent investigations by Belgian customs authorities uncovered large quantities of GlaxoSmithKline products--notably Combivir (zidovudine) Epivir (lamivudine), and Trizivir (abacavir)--destined for Africa being sold in the European Union.
Under the scheme, which covers both patented and generic products, companies will register with the European Commission the drugs they intend to sell at lower, tiered prices. These would then be stamped with a highly visible