An Indian pharmaceutical company, Ranbaxy, has withdrawn of ten of its generic AIDS drugs after an investigation revealed flaws in research claiming the drugs were as effective as patented ones. World Health Organisation (WHO) inspectors found inconsistencies between data originating in the manufacturer's laboratories and results submitted by the company to the WHO.
Campaigners argue that using cheap generic versions of patented drugs will help aid money go further, allowing more people in developing countries to access the medicine. In contrast, the US$15 billion emergency plan for AIDS relief established by US president George W Bush, has so far only approved the use of expensive brand-name drugs in its programmes for poor nations.
Ranbaxy's AIDS drugs are widely used in Benin, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Honduras, India, Malawi, Moldova, Mongolia and Swaziland. The WHO admits that finding alternatives will not be easy, and Ranbaxy is planning new studies it hopes will prove its drugs' effectiveness and put them back on the WHO list.
Link to full news story in The Guardian