Doctors Without Borders Creating New HIV Strains

Telephone: 310-472-0520

Public Interest Watch concerned French NGOs gross negligence to
use substandard generics could set back fight against AIDS
LOS ANGELES, CA – November 10, 2004 – Public Interest Watch today condemned French charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) for its gross negligence in putting substandard AIDS drugs on the market in 27 countries, with the very real possibility of having caused new strains of drug-resistant HIV to emerge.Earlier this week generic drug maker Ranbaxy – based in New Delhi, India – announced a global recall of all of its antiretroviral products out of safety concerns. The products had been endorsed for use by the World Health Organization, the health arm of the United Nations.

The French NGO has aggressively championed the usage of cheap Indian generics and, according to the Washington Post, MSF has put nearly 23,000 patients in 27 countries on these generic drugs. However, reacting to the news that Ranbaxy products were pulled form the market, an MSF spokesman Daniel Berman replied: “We are not worried for the safety of our patients. We are confident in the drugs we are using. We can’t make an equation that if a drug is removed from the list that it’s not a good drug.”

Interim Executive Director Lewis Fein commented, “Mr. Berman’s cavalier response to this serious drug recall is astounding. Why is MSF embracing the widespread use of what appears to be shoddy products? The effects of MSF’s malpractice will be clearly to have spawned new strains of HIV as a result of their highly politicized embrace of Indian generics.”

Public Interest Watch calls on MSF to provide answers to the following question:

Is MSF following provisions in the Human Declaration on Human Rights to obtain Informed Consent agreements from patients being administered generic drugs rather than branded products?

PIW is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit corporation, with additional offices in California. The group advocates stronger governmental oversight and financial disclosures among nonprofit organizations.