In May, 1989, a consignment of essential drugs was shipped from the Netherlands to the Nile Province Essential Drugs Project in Sudan. All were purchased from established generic suppliers in Europe. In July, 1989, the containers arrived in Port Sudan, and were kept in the open in the port area for eight months.
Temperatures in the first three months were often above 50 degrees C. In February, 1990, the containers were transported to Central Medical Stores in Khartoum, from where the drugs were distributed to district hospitals and health centres in the Nile province. The drugs were stored in their original containers but were never kept under controlled climatic conditions. In August, 1990, after a second summer in the country, field samples of eleven drugs that were most liable to deterioration were taken from three districts. The potency and level of degradation products were compared with original batch samples kept by the supplier.