6 November 2012

Tanzania: State Insists TPI Made Counterfeit HIV/Aids Drugs

THE government insisted that the Arusha-based Tanzania Pharmaceutical Industries (TPI) manufactured the fake anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs that were discovered in August, this year.

The Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Seif Rashid, told the National Assembly here that the TPI, which had its production activities suspended by the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) following the allegations, sold fake ARVs branded TT-VIR 30 to the Medical Stores Department (MSD).

"The documents that have been found at the MSD show that the TPI sold fake TT-VIR 30 drugs that were manufactured in batch number 0C.01.85," he said. He said that the fake life saving drugs batch was made of tablets with three different colours, yellow, white and belayed tablets (white and pink).

"Tablets with yellow colour were made up of Efaverenz instead of Nevirapine, Lamivudine and Stavudine which were supposed to be the genuine contents of the drug. The white and the combination of pink and white (belayed tablets) drugs had genuine contents (Nevirapine, Lamivudine and Stavudine) as shown in the label," he said.

The government's statement in the House comes days after the TFDA Director General, Mr Hiiti Sillo, told journalists in Dar es Salaam that contrary to TPI's denials, his authority has documents and exhibits that prove that the company was behind the production of the ARVs.

"The documents and exhibits have been submitted to security organs for further action," he stated. He reassured the public that the company has been suspended from manufacturing ARVs through a letter with reference number CA/C.80/222/01A/47 of October 4 this year.

He also said that the authority has suspended the supply of the drugs through a letter with reference number CA/C.80/222/01A/55 of October 10, this year. Mr Sillo also denied reports that TPI is continuing with production of the drugs, noting that inspection conducted by TFDA on October 23, this year, confirmed that there was no production of the drugs. For all this time, the TPI has been insisting that it did neither manufacture nor selling of the said fake drugs.

"We would like to categorically distance ourselves from the allegations. The said drugs did not emanate from TPI and are made using technology which we do not have in our factory," said TPI Executive Director, Mrs Zarina Madabida. She said that TPI produces TT-VIR 30 in the form of oval shaped tablets whereas the fake drugs are round TT-VR 30.

"We do not have the technology that can produce tablets in a round shape and in two colours. The product is simply not ours," she said. The government has also suspended three officers pending investigations at the MSD who include the Director General, Mr Joseph Mgaya, the Quality Assurance Manager, Mr Sadick Materu and the Quality Assurance Officer, Mr David Masero.

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