War on Want warns of danger of companies dumping drugs

MATHEW LITTLE

Drug donations by UK pharmaceutical companies to the developing world should be publicly registered to avoid dangerous medicines being off-loaded on to poorer countries, War on Want has urged.

New US-style tax reliefs on drug donations, to be introduced in the next Budget, could result in unsaleable, out-of-date or dangerous drugs being dumped on developing countries by pharmaceutical companies hungry for public subsidies and a "charitable

reputation, the charity warned last week.

The warning was part of a report published by War on Want and compiled by comedian and columnist Mark Thomas.

The report found that US companies were clearing their shelves of unwanted drugs and claiming the money back from the taxpayer. Examples included the dumping of appetite stimulants in Sudan, haemorrhoid cream in Albania and indigestion tablets in Rwanda.

"We want drug companies to register their donations publicly so that their 'charitable' activities can be scrutinised. We also want donations to be determined by need, not by what the companies want to shift off their shelves,

said the charity's campaigns officer Nick Dearden.

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