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Germany

German police launch AIDS medicine probe

Federal police have launched an investigation into several pharmaceutical wholesalers in Germany. They allege the companies imported low-cost AIDS drugs from Africa and sold them at a profit.

Pharmacist David Gitindi restocks AIDS drugs in a storeroom of the Princess Mariba hospital in Gaborone, Wednesday, June 25, 2003. AIDS drugs are provided free of charge by the government as part of the country's program to combat the AIDS epidemic . (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)***Zu Pelz, Abstinenz statt Kondome - Amerikas Kampf gegen AIDS in Afrika***

AIDS drugs were allegedly resold in faked packaging

German federal police have launched an investigation into several pharmaceutical wholesalers for allegedly importing cheap AIDS medicine from Africa and selling them at inflated prices.

The medicine, originally intended for aid organizations in South Africa, was said to have been brought to Europe through Belgium and Switzerland before allegedly being repackaged and sold in Germany in scam reportedly worth tens of millions of euros.

Pharmaceutical companies offer the expensive drugs at a significant discount to HIV-infected people in South Africa, while charging patients in Europe and North America higher prices to regain their costs.

AIDS group condemns charges

German AIDS charity DAH on Thursday expressed anger over the accusations, saying if true, it would have deprived HIV-positive patients of crucial medicine.

"If medicine from South Africa really ended up on the German market, this shows the criminal intent of the perpetrators," said Winfried Holz of the DAH.

According to German public radio station NDR, the alleged fraud was uncovered when a patient bought a medicine packet which proved to be empty. A follow-up investigation showed both the packaging and the instruction sheet had been faked.

GlaxoSmithKline, one of the affected drug manufacturers, said it first learned in August 2009 that its product was being sold in apparently faked packaging in Germany. A company spokesman said at that time the batch was recalled.

Author: Martin Kuebler (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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