Report: Clinton Foundation distributed ‘watered-down’ AIDS drugs to third world countries
The Clinton Foundation’s health initiative “likely increased” the risks of morbidity and mortality for HIV/AIDS patients in sub-Saharan Africa by distributing “watered-down” drugs, a report said.
A draft of a congressional report obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation cited the Clinton Foundation’s “decade-long relationship with a controversial Indian drug manufacturer called Ranbaxy,” which the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) used as one of its main distributors of HIV/AIDS drugs to third world countries.
The congressional report, titled,“The Clinton Foundation and The India Success Story,” was initiated by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican and vice-chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The report also cited the work of Dinesh Thakur, a former Ranbaxy employee “who became a star whistleblower, permitting the U.S. government to launch a landmark lawsuit against the Indian firm. The company was vulnerable to U.S. prosecution because it also sold its generic drugs on the U.S. market,” the Daily Caller noted.
Ranbaxy pleaded guilty in 2013 to seven criminal counts with intent to defraud and the introduction of adulterated drugs into interstate commerce. The Department of Justice levied a $500 million fine and forfeiture on the company.
“This is the largest false claims case ever prosecuted in the District of Maryland, and the nation’s largest financial penalty paid by a generic pharmaceutical company,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein when Ranbaxy pleaded guilty.
“When companies sell adulterated drugs, they undermine the integrity of the FDA’s approval process and may cause patients to take drugs that are substandard, ineffective, or unsafe,” said Stuart F. Delery, acting assistant attorney general for the civil division of the Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice stated in its final settlement, “alleged due to the company’s diluted drugs, it ‘subjected patients to increased risks of morbidity and mortality,’” according to the report.
“The question becomes, ‘how many people lost their lives, how many people found it was a false promise,’ ” asked Blackburn in an interview with the Daily Caller.
The congressional report also highlighted the “unseemly ties” between Bill Clinton and two Indian-Americans who have been investigated and sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“The most troubling revelations concern the Clinton Foundation’s vigorous promotion of Ranbaxy despite mounting evidence the Indian firm had persistently poor quality control and attempted to cover it up through either faulty or fraudulent reporting to the FDA,” the report said.
It is unclear at this juncture how many AIDS patients received the “watered-down” drugs.
“Substandard HIV medicines cause health problems for patients, perhaps even accelerating death from HIV-related infections,” Roger Bate, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute who researches substandard and counterfeit medicines, told the Daily Caller.
“CHAI was a part of the Clinton Foundation until 2010, when it spun off into a separate entity. The groups still have some overlapping board members and staff, and they continue to operate in close coordination. Bill Clinton, for example, is deeply involved with both organizations,” the Daily Caller report said.
The congressional report states that Bill Clinton may have relaxed quality standards in 2000 when he signed an executive order that “relaxed intellectual property policy standards,” promising the U.S. government “would not revoke or revise the intellectual property laws of any ‘sub-Saharan country’ relating to HIV/AIDS medicines or technologies.”
CHAI announced in October 2003 it was going to distribute generic, low-cost HIV drugs from four foreign drug manufacturers: Ranbaxy; Cipla of Mumbai, India; Matrix Labs of Hydrabad, India; Aspen Pharmacare of Johannesburg, South Africa.
CHAI’s endorsement also allowed Ranbaxy to manufacture HIV drugs that would be bought by the U.S. government under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief — a $15 billion initiative proposed by former President George W. Bush.
The flow of U.S. funds combined with Clinton’s endorsement allowed the four foreign drug manufactures to become “good acquisition targets,” according to the report.
The companies enjoyed great financial profits and they “exploded as they partnered with the Foundation for several years,” the report states.
Blackburn says the worst part of the story were the “false hopes” offered by the Clinton Foundation.
“You think about the emotional state of health care workers as they are dealing with these individuals and the emotional state of the patients. To me it’s disturbing and very sad,” she said.