Drug donations, even in emergency situations, may cause
problems rather than being helpful if they do not comply with specific
principles and guidelines.
The following guidelines reflect a consensus between
major international agencies.
Core principles for drug
Guidelines for drug donations
Recommendations For Donors
Recommendations For the Recipient Country
Core principles for drug donation:
- All donations should benefit the recipient
- Respect for the wishes and authority of the recipient
- There should not be a double standard in quality
- Effective communication between the donor and the recipient.
Guidelines for drug donations:
- All drug donations should be based on an expressed need and be
relevant to the disease pattern in the recipient country.
- All drugs should be approved for use in the recipient country.
- The presentation, strength and formulation of donated drug should, as
much as possible, be similar to those commonly used I he recipient country.
- All donated drugs should be obtained from a reliable source and
comply with quality standards in both: donor and recipient countries.
- No drug should be donated that have been issued to patients and then
returned to a pharmacy or elsewhere.
- After arrival in the recipient country all donated drugs should have
a remaining shelf-life of at least one year.
- All drugs should be labeled in a language that is easy understood by
health professionals in the recipient country.
- Donated drugs should be presented in larger quantity units and
- All drug donations should be packed in accordance with international
shipping regulations (named by INN, dosage form, quantity, batch number, expiry date,
volume, weight and any special storage conditions).
- Recipients should be informed of all drug donations that are being
considered, prepared or actually underway.
- In the recipient country the declared value of a drug donation should
be based upon the wholesale price of its generic equivalent in the recipient country
(except for patented drug for which there is no generic equivalent).
- Cost of international and local transport, warehousing, port
clearance and appropriate storage and handling should be paid by the donor agency, unless
specifically agreed otherwise with the recipient in advance.
Recommendations For Donors:
- Drug donations should complement national efforts and meet the
country needs. Always consult the official list made by the national authority (or the
disaster coordinator) for information on WHAT medicines are needed for that particular
country. To donate pharmaceutical products relevant to the disaster or emergency situation
may not be enough reason to send them to the country. The country may have them in stock
or they may not comply with locally agreed drug policies and standard treatment
guidelines. Donations of inappropriate medicines can divert attention from health
personnel in sorting, classifying, labeling and, most important, in destroying them.
- Whenever possible, donate medicines already classified (in their
boxes), preferably by therapeutic groups.
- Pharmaceutical forms as well as presentation are important. To reduce
shipments cost and facilitate logistics, whenever possible does not donate drug syrup and
mixtures packed in glass containers. (Except for those preparations that must be packed in
that kind of containers).
Recommendations For the Recipient Country:
- In emergency situations, it is common to have many organizations
involved in receiving and distributing international donations
(mainly NGOs). It is wise to have an official unit
to coordinate them or at least to have access to information
on what drugs are being received and where (i.e. health
centers) they are being sent.
- Provide international donors with a list of needed drugs
and inform them of updates.
- Include in the list of needed drugs all necessary devices
for administering them such as syringes and needles.
- In making the list of needed drugs, make a specific
provision for controlled medicines and follows the WHO
- Even though drug donations guidelines are to be followed
by donors and recipients, be prepared to receive drugs
that are not needed, expired or near the expiration date.
Have a special team to deal with those cases.
For more information on donations of drugs and
medical equipment please visit http://www.drugdonations.org.