Donating pharmaceutical products

In the face of disaster and suffering there is a natural human impulse to reach out and help those in need. Medicines are an essential element in alleviating suffering, and international humanitarian relief efforts can greatly benefit from donations of appropriate drugs.

Unfortunately, there are also many examples of drug donations that cause problems rather than alleviating them. A sizeable disaster does not always lead to an objective assessment of emergency medical needs based on epidemiological data and past experience. Very often an emotional appeal for massive medical assistance is issued without guidance on what are the priority needs.

It was therefore necessary to define a comprehensive set of guidelines that are approved and adhered to by the main international organisations working in emergency situations. These guidelines are necessary for the following reasons.

  • Donors intend well, but often do not realise the possible inconveniences and unwanted consequences at the receiving end.
  • Donors and recipients do not communicate on equal terms. Recipients may need support in specifying how they want to be helped.
  • Drug needs may vary between countries and from situation to situation. Drug donations must be based on a sound analysis of the needs, and their selection and distribution must fit within existing drug policies and administrative systems. Unsolicited and unnecessary drug donations are wasteful and should be prevented.
  • The quality requirements of drugs are different from those for other donated items, such as food and clothing. Drugs can be harmful if misused; they need to be identified easily through labels and written information; they may expire; and they may have to be destroyed in a professional way.

For Tulipe, one of the key criteria for the selection of its partners is their adherence to the WHO Guidelines for Drug Donations.

(Source: Guidelines for Drug Donations, World Health Organisation-WHO, 1999)