New Supply Chain Set Up for HIV Medicine

WASHINGTON, DC  — Hoping to speed AIDS drugs from port to patient, the Bush administration awarded a $77 million contract Tuesday to help establish a new supply system for medicines and other HIV-related aid to Africa. The effort to provide worldwide HIV treatment has been complicated by developing nations' lack of basic medical supply chains: how to buy drugs at competitive prices, store them in secure warehouses, truck them thousands of miles to clinics and train workers to administer them. The new U.S. initiative, part of President Bush's five-year, $15 billion Africa AIDS program, aims to help individual countries and aid organizations working in them to take such steps. The contract, awarded to a network called the Partnership for Supply Chain Management, will provide one-stop shopping to obtain and import HIV-related products, from medications and HIV test kits to such routine medical equipment as gloves and sterilization supplies. Among the partnership's services: estimating how much of various drugs a country or region will need, negotiating prices and setting up local systems to store and distribute products. "The need for this is apparent to anyone working in the field now, " said Dr. Mark Dybul, deputy U.S. global AIDS coordinator, describing a patchwork of systems that attempt to provide such services. The contract provides up to $77 million over three years for the partnership to perform such work, and anticipates that the new system could handle over $500 million worth of drugs and other supplies during that time.

The partnership is made up of 15 groups with expertise in such areas as African health care or medical supply systems, led by JSI Research and Training Institute and Management Sciences for Health.