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U.K. Backs Program To Improve Drug Access in Developing Countries

United Kingdom International Development Secretary Hilary Benn on Wednesday announced that the country will support the Medicines// Transparency Alliance -- an initiative that aims to improve access to quality medical care, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria treatment, in developing countries -- the Financial Times reports.

MeTA aims to improve access to quality medicine by providing information about HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB drugs to governments, not-for-profit organizations and pharmaceutical companies, the Times reports.

The initiative also aims to increase efficiency, bolster drug procurement and fight corruption by making information about drug costs public. MeTA -- which is funded by a 25 million pounds, or about $50 million, five-year grant from the Department for International Development -- will draw on DFID's experience with its existing Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which aims to improve the quality of public procurement for medicines.

In addition, MeTA hopes to increase awareness about drug procurement processes and other logistical issues, according to the Times. "We want better information on the price of drugs, their availability and quality," Benn said, adding, "We know that there are big mark-ups on drugs, drugs are not always available, distribution is not working and the quality is often not effective."

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors are considering lending support to MeTA. Pilot projects are scheduled to be launched this summer in nine countries -- including Ghana, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Peru and the Philippines -- the Times reports. MeTA aims to draw on the experiences in the pilot countries and launch the initiative worldwide by the end of next year.

Source-Kaiser Family Foundation

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