EU agrees deal on cheaper drugs for developing world

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 05 June 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1229
  1. Rory Watson
  1. Brussels

    The European Union has agreed measures to encourage drug companies to sell drugs to treat AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis to poor countries at low prices without running the risk that the drugs would find their way on to Europe's black market.

    Under the plan, exporters are invited to put their products—either patented or generic—on a tiered price list run by the European Commission.

    To have their products featured on the list the companies must agree to sell the drugs at a 75% discount on European prices or to apply just a 15% mark up on the cost of production.

    The products will then be stamped with a special logo that can be easily identified by customs authorities. Any attempt to import the items back into Europe would be treated as a criminal offence.

    The scheme will apply to 76 least developed and low income countries—mainly in sub-Saharan Africa—that are unable to produce locally the drugs they need and where HIV/AIDS is particularly prevalent.

    The EU believes that the system will stamp out the growing phenomenon of cheap drugs destined for developing countries being smuggled back into Europe.

    The EU hopes that the scheme, which will come into effect within days, will be taken up by other rich countries, notably the United States.

    View Abstract

    Sign in

    Log in through your institution

    Free trial

    Register for a free trial to to receive unlimited access to all content on for 14 days.
    Sign up for a free trial