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New Vision
NMS Stops Aids Drug Deal
Geresom Musamali
May 19, 2003
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 was present.

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.



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