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Executive Summary

Ciba-Geigy makes drug donations to Third World countries from among products within two years of their expiration dates; but the company will not donate any products with less than one year of expirating dating, the company told a U.N. Internatl. Business Council meeting in NYC on April 11. As part of a corporate policy to address health problems specific to the Third World, Ciba-Geigy's Third World Relations Director Klaus Leisinger, PhD, said the company will not sell drugs that have two years or less to expiration, but will donate them "with the clear notion" of the expiration date and of the necessity for immediate use. "This we do on a regular basis" Leisinger explained, "because we believe that if a drug is still valid in its action for two more years, and if we make that clear, we do a service giving it away rather than destroying it." Responding to a concern raised at the meeting by the Minister of the Sudanese mission to the U.N. Mohammed Elhassan that importent drugs were being distributed to needy countries "ostensibly on the basis of assistance," Leisinger said that "a company that is donating expired drugs is commiting a criminal offense, as easy and as simple as that." In the case of Ciba-Geigy, Leisinger stated, "whatever is under a year, with the exception of antibiotics . . . gets destroyed." The scarcity and importance of drugs as a resource in these countries means "that we cannot afford to confuse doctors or health personnel . . . by giving them something which is supposed to act against the disease and doesn't," Leisinger said. At the meeting Ciba-Geigy explained to representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and various UN missions and organizations the various aspects of its Third World policy, and discussed some of the implementing programs. The company said that it intends "to assume a more active role in the campaign against leprosy" in particular. Ciba-Geigy will help make leprosy drugs more available "by lowering the prices for all of the three drugs recommended by the WHO" in its leprosy treatment regimen, and in some cases providing them free of charge. Two of these drugs, Lamprene and Rimactane were developed and are manufactured by Ciba-Geigy. The third, dapsone, is handled by Servipharm. Through this program the company said that it intended to ensure that the costs for the recommended six months of treatment for paucibacillary leprosy would amount to less than $2.50 per patient. Ciba-Geigy is currently participating in one project being conducted in the Gharbia Governorate, an Egyptian province between Cairo and Alexandria, in which the WHO and the Egyptian Ministry of Health are also involved. The project is designed to screen inhabitants in the area to determine and evaluate the size of its leprosy problem, and then to provide treatment and follow-up of the patients detected. The firm is also offering to supply at no charge to the Indian govt. enough Lamprene to treat some 22,000 patients on the condition that the govt. keep the firm informed of the details of its leprosy control program.

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