‘No deal yet on Aids drugs’

The government has not yet formalised a trade deal with any Canadian Company to import generic Aids drugs from there, a cabinet minister has said.

BY INNOCENT GAHIGANA

The government has not yet formalised a trade deal with any Canadian Company to import generic Aids drugs from there, a cabinet minister has said.

The reported formalities undertaken by the government’s Treatment and Aids Research Centre (TRAC) were in cycles of World Trade Organisation (WTO) legislations that prescribe patents for production and import of generic Aids drugs.

The Health State Minister for Aids and other Pandemics, Dr. Innocent Nyaruhirira told the journalists on August 15 that the said patents were asked for by a Canadian company, Apotex.Apotex was the first company to apply to use the 2003 WTO legislation that allows generic drug makers to produce Aids drugs, almost regardless of the patent holders.

Nyaruhirira said, “TRAC only submitted a request to the WTO for override of trade patents and import the required drugs from any low-cost selling company. But importation will be determined by the cost of drugs from the (Apotex) producer.”

The minister refuted the claims that last month, Rwanda, under the WTO legislation, requested 260,000 packages of a triple combination Aids drugs from Canada.

“We have never had any trade deal with that Canadian company (Apotex), except the promise it made to us that it will produce that medicine at low-cost,” Nyaruhirira explained.

Importation of the Aids drugs is done through a tendering process, he went on, where the bidding firms are expected to present affordable prices to the government. He said that the National Medical Stores, CAMERWA, are the ones responsible for that.

Nyaruhirira maintained that the government will continue to import the required medicines from countries like India and Brazil that yet sell them at the low-cost that patients can afford.“If there happens to be any other country that produces such drugs with same quality at a cheap price, we will import them from there. The more the competition in production, the better.”
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