Thieves Hijacking Donated Novartis Malaria Drugs
The U.S. is investigating the widespread theft and blackmarket resale of malaria drugs donated to Africa by the U.S. government.
Large shipments of Coartem, a malaria drug provided on a nonprofit basis by Novartis, are being hijacked by organized networks in Tanzania and ending up for sale at street markets in Angola.
Coartem is one of the most widely used malaria drugs in Africa, with cure rates exceeding 90% in many clinical trials.
Between 2006 and 2012, Washington has allocated close to $2.5 billion to the President's Malaria Initiative, a program launched by George W. Bush in 2005 and led by USAID. The African thefts are one of many challenges undermining U.S. efforts to help fight the deadly disease.
Beyond the consequences of the crime itself, stolen drugs are often improperly stored, and thus become ineffective in treating malaria.