On 23 October 2003 The Clinton Foundation announced that it had negotiated price reductions for the supply of HIV/Aids drugs with the following companies:
- Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd., of Johannesburg, South Africa;
- Cipla Ltd., of Mumbai, India;
- Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., of Delhi, India; and
- Matrix Laboratories Ltd., of Hyderabad, India.
The agreement covered antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for delivery to African countries and the Caribbean through the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative. Business for those pharma companies went through the roof.
That's Indian pharma executive and conman Nimmagad PRASAD on the right behind Clinton. Prior to the Clinton deal PRASAD bought a rundown Indian pharmaceutical company and renamed it Matrix Laboraties.
The deal with Clinton was very good for him.
He sold most of Matrix to the US pharma company Mylan and by 2006 had taken his initial investment of Indian Rs. 30Million ($500K AUD) to 5.7Billion ($110M AUD).
In 2012 he was charged with corruption and jailed for 17 months.
Ranbaxy's history is worse. By 2004 Ranbaxy was on notice of a formal investigation by the World Health Organisation over the sale by Ranbaxy of adulterated and worthless drugs labelled as the genuine article. In May 2013 Ranbaxy paid a record fine of USD $5ooM to settle the US Department of Justice criminal complaints. As the final US DoJ details settling the long running and very public case against Ranbaxy were completed, Bill Clinton jetted off to India to give what he thought was a private paid speech praising Ranbaxy and its executives. This is from the Indian Times, April 2013.
Australia is implicated in the Ranbaxy scandal. On 23 March 2013 a DFAT official wrote to me:
“Prior to 2013, a small amount of Australian aid money was expended on Ranbaxy pharmaceutical products in Papua New Guinea to support the PNG Government’s health programs.”
Media Liaison Officer
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
At least $100M of taxpayer funded Australian aid money has been used in the purchase of pharmaceuticals under a relationship established between the Clinton Foundation and the Australian Government in February 2006. That is in addition to amounts donated directly to the Clinton Foundation.
Prior to his jailing, the pharmaceutical purchases were explained by Matrix Laboratories Mr Prasad, speaking here to DNA India in 2009.
Bill Clinton "facilitated" the deals
After working his way forward from being a professional executive in a pharma company to a promoter of the pharma major Matrix Laboratories, Nimmagadda Prasad is now an entrepreneur with interests in multiple and unrelated segments. After handing over Matrix to Mylan, the focus now is on managing the investments with an objective of creating pancha ratnas (five jewels), Prasad reveals in an interview. Excerpts:
After handing over Matrix Labs to Mylan, you seem to have turned into a serial entrepreneur. Are you still with the pharma sector or is there any plan to diversify into new areas?
Yes, after Matrix, I started looking at various other sectors basically from an investment point of view. But, even during the Matrix days, I was keen on evaluating options in other areas. With that plan in mind, I had decided to create pancha ratnas (five jewels) for myself to invest. .....................
From being a citalopram player, Matrix has played its cards to ally with former US president Bill Clinton to sell anti retrovirals (ARVs) in some developing markets. How much revenue does the Clinton Foundation provide to Matrix?
The Clinton Foundation does not buy anything from us. They only facilitate the supply of drugs to affected markets by creating the necessary logistics. At a time when Indian products did not have much credibility in the market, the Foundation gave buyers the required confidence about the products. They had set up the distribution channels. They prepared the protocols for compliance and guided the teams in the affected countries on usage of the drug.
Do you discuss price with the Foundation?
Yes, even today, the Foundation negotiates with us on the price. But they don’t buy it directly. They negotiate the price on behalf of the governments willing to buy the product.
And Australia was there with more than $100M of taxpayer money buying often useless Clinton "facilitations".
Up to December 2005 the Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative (CHAI) appears to have been focussed entirely on HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals - here's the Clinton Foundation 2005 Annual Report on CHAI:
2005 was another productive year for the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative, which enables people in over 50 developing nations to access life-saving AIDS medicines at up to 80% below market price. This year, over 240,000 people accessed these medicines, a fourfold increase over last year. We worked hard to deliver these critical treatments to children and people in rural areas, two groups that have been terribly neglected but desperately need our help. Now, people who might not have otherwise survived are living healthy, productive lives because of these efforts. It’s a start, but we cannot forget about the millions of people around the world who still need treatment and are not getting it.
Until end 2005 the Clinton Foundation's CHAI #1 was geographically focussed in Africa and the Caribbean. It doesn't appear to have demonstrated much distinctive competence beyond Clinton's price reduction with the dodgy pharmaceutical manufacturers. It had no demonstrable presence in Asia and no distinctive competence in the region at all. Australia is not mentioned in the Clinton Foundation 2005 Annual Report.
With no presence in our region and distinctive IP that appeared to consist of a publicly published pharmaceutical price list, it's hard to see what value Australia thought it might receive from our initial $25M partnership agreement (formally a MOU) with the Clinton Foundation.
On 22 February 2006 Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer and former president of the United States Bill Clinton signed a memorandum of understanding.
Under the agreement, the Australian Government will work with the Clinton Foundation and provide up to $25 million over four years to support the scale-up of treatment and care for people living with HIV/AIDS. Initially, activities will focus on three countries: Papua New Guinea, Vietnam and China, but may also be expanded to other countries in the Asia–Pacific region.
Source - DFAT Annual Report 2005/06
18 months later and DFAT's annual report for 2006/07 makes just 4 mentions of the Clinton Foundation and the MOU. Our biggest achievement with Clinton after 18 months? Facilitating his Foundation's presence in our region.
So we paid for others to access Clinton Foundation expertise and finances. Today, Australians should be forgiven for asking 'What expertise?" And as for access to finances, well Bill Clinton certainly seems to have profited for access to ours, but it's difficult to see much of the reverse.
As the DFAT Annual Report correctly records, we paid to "facilitate" the Clinton Foundation establishing a presence in our region. We then paid $100M for the purchase of often worthless pharmaceuticals made in underregulated Indian factories and distributed through deals "facilitated" by Bill Clinton.
We were taken for mugs by a conman.
Here's a taste of just one example of what is a consistent theme.