THE National Medical Stores (NMS) has pulled out of the controversial deal under
which Eris Ltd, a local pharmaceutical company, was to re-export HIV/AIDS
anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs imported by NMS.
The move follows a directive from health state minister for general duties Mike
Mukula to NMS to pull out.
Uganda's major ARV subsidised drug sellers GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) also warned
that Uganda could lose the subsidies if NMS and Eris re-exported the drugs.
NMS general manager Robert Rutaagi on Saturday said the commercial ARV that NMS
and Eris wanted to import was being confused with the subsidised drug
exclusively handled by the UNAIDS Medical Access.
"We are talking about two different sources of the drug. One source is very
heavily subsidised and the other is commercial. Eris has cancelled the order and
NMS has also cancelled any intention to handle the commercial combivil until the
matter is better understood," Rutaagi said at a press conference at the Imperial
Hotel in Kampala.
Dr. John Lule, the acting executive secretary of the National Drugs Authority
Rutaagi said NMS, a parastatal, is undergoing restructuring. He said 40 of its
employees had been retrenched and one of them had died.
Rutaagi said the retrenchees were bitter and were giving the media biased
information, leading to the ARV confusion.
"The NMS board and management are aware of the problem and meetings have been
held to resolve it," Rutaagi said.
Lule said NDA would not license re-export of ARVs because unscrupulous people
may take advantage and siphon subsidised drugs out of government facilities.