Monday, October 08, 2007

Recent Events

I have never been much at keeping diaries and journals, and am much better at procrastinating than keeping any schedule. Let me try to recap the events of the last month or so.

I got an email September 4th from my contact at the hospital reporting a delivery by the Iraqi agency Kimadia as follows:

The hospital received in August the following drugs from KIMADIA:
1.Actinmycin vial : 281
2.Doxorubicin 50 mg vial : 427
3.Mitomycin 10 mg vial : 200
4. Vincristine 1 mg vial : 1000
5. Interferon 9 m units vial : 1500

The quantities are much larger than the shipments I am able to send, but this is the first shipment of chemo drugs of any importance received from Kimadia in about a year, so far as I know. Although the shipment from Kimadia was gratefully received it is less than the hospital's needs by far. It remains to be seen whether Kimadia can establish a regular pattern of deliveries.

My contact said on the phone that an additional small shipment (2 or 3 vials of doxorubicin and about 50 vials of vincristine) was received from Kimadia in September. I have difficulty hearing him clearly on the phone and his email service remains intermittent so I'm not 100% percet sure of the details of this small shipment.

On a less encouraging note, I noticed a story from an Iraqi news agency indicating that Syrian police in Damascus recently confiscated "more than 60,000 packets of drugs" with a value "estimated at $16 million" originally purchased by the Iraqi government smuggled out of Iraq for sale elsewhere. The story I read is here: LINK . I looked for confirmation from other news services but couldn't find any. Never the less, the report is distressing and is consistent with the pattern of shortages at Iraqi hospitals.

I was able to arrange a shipment to the hospital in September from the supplier I am currently working with in India. The were a few glitches but the shipment reached the hospital OK. Problems included unexpectedly long transit time as indicated by FedEx tracking. A helper unexpectedly went on leave at the Mosul Airport, and friction developed among other helpers there trying to improvise in his absence. The shipment was kept un-opened in a fridge overnight (actually, spare space in 3 hastily commandeered fridges) while one helper tracked down the other, so it's not 100% clear what the condition of the icepacks was on arrival at the airport. My guess is the drugs were at above optimum storage temperatures for 1 to 3 days and should not have deteriorated substantially, but I am not a medical person. About all I could do was report the long transit time etc to the hospital and let the oncologists there make the decision on whether the drugs were fit to use. My understanding is that they concluded they were.

This shipment included
1.Carboplatin 450 mg vial : 10 vials
2.Doxorubicin 50 mg vial : 50 vials
and, additionally, 50 vials of vincristine provided as a sample by the vendor.