Glucobay, a phenomenally successful diabetes drug, made its German seller (the pharmaceutical giant Bayer) $379 million in 2004. The drug is based on bacteria harvested in Kenya, and has become one of the worlds leading diabetes brands. However, according to a recent think-tank dossier, Kenya is not making anything from the business.
The report was conducted jointly by the Edmonds Institute in Washington and the African Centre for Biosafety and is entitled ‘Out of Africa: Mysteries of Access and Benefit Sharing.’ They claim that Bayer have been manufacturing Glucobay in Kenya since 1995, a year before it hit the enormous American market. They have investigated the patent of Glucobay, and found that one of its source ingredients, the bacterium Actinoplanes SE 50, is harvested from water found near to Nairobi.
The report, which extends far beyond Kenya, in fact details an enormous issue. Sub-Saharan African, for years, has been used a source of natural resources which have then been commercialised and marketed for cosmetic and medicinal purposes. This has then earned the holders of the patents hundreds of millions of dollars. The communities from which these natural resources have been taken have not received any compensation.
The companies detailed in the report include enormous pharmaceutical and cosmetic market-leaders. These include Glaxo, Pfizer and Dior.

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