Cablegate: Phrma Group Forms to Support Iraq

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary. A group of Amman-based reps of
multinational pharmaceutical companies, facilitated by
the regional office of Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), is forming a working
group to provide recommendations to Iraqi authorities on
establishing a pharmaceutical regime. These major,
innovative companies, which have mainly been shut out of
the Iraqi market for over a decade, have substantial
experience and resources that could be brought to bear on
some of the difficult issues Iraq's health sector faces.
The embassy will remain engaged with the group as their
work progresses. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Following a July 6 conference call with CPA
advisor to the Iraq Ministry of Health Shaun Stevens, a
group of Amman-based representatives of multinational
pharmaceutical companies agreed to form a working group.
The group, which will try to include CPA reps
electronically, will endeavor to provide recommendations
to Iraqi authorities as they devise new procedures for
the import and distribution of pharmaceutical products.

3. (SBU) The company reps explained that as U.S. and UK
companies most of them had been excluded from Oil for
Food program contracts with Iraq for the past decade.
The Iraqis mainly procured generic products from Russia,
China and other countries that were perceived as
politically supportive of the regime and from companies
ready to pay "commissions." Thus, their companies and
products, which are the most modern and innovative, are
for the most part not included on lists of drugs Kimadia
(the Health Ministry's procurement arm) had purchased
over the past decade. They had also lost contact with
Kimadia officials. Their companies' main interest is in
working with Kimadia to restore what they believe is
their natural share of the Iraqi drug market, as they say
they enjoyed pre-sanctions.

4. (SBU) They understand that this is a medium term
objective and that a necessary part of restoring their
access is establishment of an Iraqi legal and regulatory
regime for pharmaceutical products that covers issues
like intellectual property protection, drug registration,
pricing, and distribution. They also understood that the
immediate task of CPA is to examine pending OFF contracts
and to wind down the program. In the meantime, the group
will begin meeting and working to develop their ideas.
One of the members noted, for example, that Jordan's IPR
laws could provide a model for Iraqi laws. They would
welcome participation as possible by Kimadia reps,
through visits to Amman or electronically.

5. (SBU) In the shorter term, the group will also
discuss with Kimadia and the WHO the status of the
relatively few pending OFF contracts their companies
hold. They noted that they have also received requests
from Iraqi private sector companies interested in
distributing their products in Iraq. Stevens, however,
said Iraqi policy would probably be to work directly with
the companies rather than through middlemen.

6. Comment: This seems to be an excellent, constructive
private sector initiative that will benefit both the
companies and the creation of a health system in Iraq.
One rep noted that among the group there was 250 years of
collective experience in the pharmaceutical business in
the region. PhRMA should also be able to bring its
financial and other resources to bear on some of the
difficult issues the Iraqi health sector faces. Amman
appears to be the natural locus for this activity since
many PhRMA members base their regional operations in
Amman or in nearby Beirut or Damascus. The embassy will
work with the group as its activities develop. As
suggested during the conference call, it could be very
useful at the right time for Kimadia reps to travel to
Amman to meet the group. End Comment.

7. (SBU) The call was facilitated by the regional PhRMA
rep Samir Mansour, Embassy Amman's Economic Section, and
Humanitarian Assistance Coordinating Center (HACC) Amman
reps. Regional representatives of Bristol Myers Squib,
Schering Plough, Pfizer, Novartis, Eli Lilly, Wyeth,
Glaxo Smith Kline, Schering AG, and Boehringer Ingelheim
participated in the call and subsequent meeting. Mansour
will coordinate future activities of the group on behalf
of PhRMA.

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