Malaria researchers say global fund is buying “useless drug”

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 20 November 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1188
  1. Gavin Yamey
  1. BMJ

    The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is under intense scrutiny from malaria researchers, who say that its limited resources are being wasted on useless malaria drugs.

    The controversy was sparked by the latest figures on the fund's spending on malaria treatment in Africa. More is being spent on chloroquine, which costs just $0.10 (£0.06; €0.08) for each dose but which is largely ineffective in Africa, than on combination treatments based on artemisinin, which are highly effective but cost at least 10 times as much. The result, say the researchers, is that lives are being lost needlessly.

    “It is terrible to waste lives and money deploying a useless drug,” said Professor Nick White, director of the Wellcome Trust's South-East Asia Overseas Unit.

    Dr Amir Attaran, associate fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, believes that the fund's reputation is at stake. “In Africa extensive resistance means that chloroquine therapy is almost everywhere a contradiction in terms, such that financing chloroquine is both a waste of the fund's very limited money and is tantamount to medical malpractice.”

    The fund argues that its critics have misunderstood the way it operates and the way in which the chloroquine it has bought is being used in each country.

    Individual countries send proposals to the fund asking it to finance specific projects to …

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