The Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation likely partnered with a corrupt drug company producing “watered down” HIV/AIDS drugs for African patients in exchange for donations to the foundation and million-dollar consulting contracts for Bill Clinton, a new congressional report states.
The foundation partnered with the Indian drug manufacturer Ranbaxy in 2003 to procure cheap HIV/AIDs drugs for African patients. Ranbaxy deceived the U.S. government into buying watered-down drugs in multi-billion-dollar deals likely negotiated by the foundation, according to a September 2016 report by Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s (R-TN) office. Her website summarized the report’s key findings in this way:
- “The Clinton Foundation likely facilitated the distribution of watered down HIV/AIDS medications in sub-Saharan Africa through its Health Access Initiative.
- “The distribution of watered down HIV/AIDS medications in sub-Saharan Africa may have increased patient mortality rates.
- “Watered down HIV/AIDS [anti-retrovirals] were purchased with taxpayer money … as a result of price agreements, some of which were likely negotiated by the Clinton Foundation.
- “President Clinton was personally enriched with million dollar consulting contracts by a friend of convicted felon, and Ranbaxy advocate, Rajat Gupta from 2002–2008.”
Ranbaxy pled guilty to seven felonies, admitted lying to multiple federal health care agencies, and was fined $500 million in 2013, the same year former President Bill Clinton praised the firm’s AIDS-fighting efforts to an audience of 600 businessmen in Mumbai, India, The Economic Times reported in 2013.
The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and another foundation affiliate also received more than $556 million in 2006 alone from UNITAID, a United Nations group half-funded by a tax on airplane tickets paid by travelers worldwide, the online news site WND reported in 2015.
Regulatory Factors Critical
Dr. John Hunt, a pediatrician who runs a nonprofit foundation in Liberia, West Africa, says drug companies often lock themselves into marketing doses approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), even when smaller doses would suffice, Hunt says.
“Often [doses] are determined based on the best guess of a company that uses that dose in a large study and then is stuck marketing that dose because that dose is what they went to FDA with,” Hunt said. “Once approved, they aren’t going to look at other doses. This is the norm. That is one reason I wouldn’t care about a 20 percent dilution and only might be concerned about a 50 percent dilution.
“To assess whether I would have done things differently than CHAI, I would need to know just how diluted these drugs were,” Hunt said.
The United States’ overregulated, overly expensive drug market creates an incentive to buy drugs from other countries, Hunt says.
“HIV medications during the timeframe in question were extremely expensive in the United States,” Hunt said. “Had I been focused on HIV, I would have gone to India for my medication supply for my patients in Africa.”
FDA ‘Highly Destructive’
FDA should bear much of the responsibility for the watered-down drugs scandal, Hunt says.
“FDA’s interventions into the generic market are legion and have the major effect of helping large pharma companies maintain very high margins by excluding competition,” Hunt said. “Although they may be able to augment safety and help assure efficacy, I am confident that FDA’s negative influence far outweighs any positive effects.”
Hunt says FDA further jeopardizes patients by preventing the rise of companies that would test drug doses.
“I would ban the FDA as a highly destructive entity. Banning FDA would lead to the immediate development of multiple businesses whose focus will be to test the concentrations of drugs in pills sold to the public,” Hunt said.
‘Crony Capitalism,’ ‘Socialism’
Dr. Gerard Gianoli, clinical associate professor at the Tulane University School of Medicine in Louisiana, says the scandal commingles government corruption and corporate greed.
“I think this is emblematic of crony capitalism and its offspring, socialism,” Gianoli said. “Because the manufacturers are so entangled with the powers that be, there is not effective oversight.”
Patients lose when governments pick which companies succeed, Gianoli says.
“A free market would have effectively punished this company by removing them from the marketplace, i.e. bankruptcy,” Gianoli said. “But because they’re favored by the political elite, the fraud foisted on the unsuspecting public is allowed to be propagated.”
Warning for United States
Clinton’s proposed health care policies for the United States would generate similar corruption, Gianoli says.
“The same scenario would be expected in a public option health care model proposed by Mrs. Clinton,” Gianoli said. “When government bureaucrats pick and choose your drug manufacturers, the same will be the result here in the United States.”
Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, says the foundation’s treatment of African AIDS patients reflects the Clintons’ political health care policy.
“Clinton health care was and is about enriching crony capitalists,” Orient said. “Whenever money is taken from those who earn it, to benefit those who didn’t, it is an invitation to corruption.”
Diane Carol Bast ([email protected]) is executive editor for policy publications at The Heartland Institute. Michael T. Hamilton ([email protected]) is a Heartland Institute research fellow and the managing editor of Health Care News, author of the weekly Consumer Power Report, and host of the Health Care News Podcast.
“The Clinton Foundation and the ‘India Success Story’: Self-Serving Philanthropy, Watered-Down Drugs, and Money in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Office of Rep. Marsha Blackburn, U.S. House of Representatives, September 2016: https://heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/the-clinton-foundation-and-the-india-success-story-self-serving-philanthropy-watered-down-drugs-and-money-in-sub-saharan-africa