Kenya plans to allow parallel importation of drugs

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- The importation of the parallel generic version of HIV/AIDS drugs could be allowed in Kenya once a bill recently tabled in parliament becomes law.
According to health authorities in Nairobi the Intellectual Property Bill would lead to a remarkable reduction of prices of HIV/AIDS drugs if endorsed The law would however not infringe on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) treaty of which Kenya is a signatory.
Public Health Minister Sam Ongeri told the Kenyan parliament Thursday that the HIV/AIDS drugs were expensive, adding that the country presently requires a budget of 12 billion shillings each year to purchase such drugs.
(1 US dollar = 78 Ksh) The health ministry's total budget is 9 billion Kenyan shillings.
Ongeri was speaking after 39 pharmaceutical companies dropped a court case against South Africa which plans to import or manufacture cheaper parallel HIV/AIDS drugs.
In Kenya, a similar campaign by a coalition of NGOs convinced a leading drug manufacturing company, Glaxowelcome, to reduce prices of their drugs by a considerable percentage.
Meanwhile the Kenya AIDS control Unit wants the government to request other leading pharmaceutical companies to lower the prices of anti-AIDS drugs to affordable levels.
The unit's manager Keneth Chebet observed in Nairobi on Friday that the prices of drugs used to control AIDS viral loads were too expensive for the ordinary citizens and the government was unable to supply them.
"Ordinary Kenyans cannot afford the drugs, neither can the Government," he remarked, adding that for the ministry of health to procure such drugs, it would need over 12 million shillings annually.
Chebet also challenged the government to consider reducing the tax on imported medical equipment so as to bring down the cost of medical services in Kenya.
The 18 percent Value Added Tax charged in Kenya is subsequently passed on to patients by health institutions thus rendering such services exorbitant, he complained.

20 april 2001 11:15:00




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