Africa: Affordable Drugs, 10/11/00

Africa: Affordable Drugs, 10/11/00

Africa: Affordable Drugs Date distributed (ymd): 001011 Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +US policy focus+ Summary Contents: This posting contains three short documents related to affordable drugs for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases.

The first is a media advisory from ACT UP Philadelphia, announcing a demonstration targeting U.S. Presidential candidate George W. Bush. Last year ACT UP targeted Vice-President Gore for his role in pressuring South Africa to stop legislation allowing compulsory licensing and parallel imports of generic HIV/AIDS drugs. In September 1999 drug companies suspended their legal action against South Africa on the legislation, and in December President Clinton announced a more "flexible' U.S. position on this issue. (See and

The second document, excerpted from Action for Southern Africa's Trade and Development Update, notes that the drug companies resumed their legal action in South Africa in July this year.

The third document is a statement from M,decins sans FrontiSres , with a critique of the World Health Organization's new "Massive Effort" against communicable diseases (see, for not going far enough to "challenge the status quo" and to call for adequate investment in new measures against diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

For additional information, see other documents referenced at and, in particular the following web sites: Treatment Action Campaign ( Health Global Access Project ( MSF Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines (

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ACT UP * Media Advisory


CONTACT: Paul Davis, 215.731.1844 or page: 215.212.9050 If you reach our voice mail system, leave a message in box 9.


* Bush's ties to drug industry "deadly" for millions in US and abroad denied affordable generic AIDS drugs

* Activists charge unlucky Candidate Bush with "Texas AIDS Disaster";

* Arrests Expected



Philly Area: free buses leave 8 am from Broad and Walnut. Return by 7 pm. Lunch provided.

Washington, DC: First st. between C & D, near Capitol South Metro stop.

NYC: e-mail for info on free transportation:

Who: 1000 people with AIDS and their friends and families. The sponsoring group ACT UP Philadelphia is the largest grassroots AIDS protest group in the U.S.

What: Activists from throughout the East Coast will target Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush at the Republican National Committee's Washington, D.C. headquarters in a powerful, nonviolent protest Friday, October 13, 2000.

The demonstration will include a stunning image of G. W. Bush as a puppet controlled by drug industry, as well as visual displays such as a procession of coffins and an "empty pill bottle drop" symbolizing the lack of access to affordable AIDS drugs that will result from a Bush presidency. A performance by the ACT UP Gospel Choir is anticipated.

Protest speakers will include national and international leaders in the fight against AIDS, united in their condemnation of Candidate Bush's record on HIV/AIDS during his five years as Texas' governor, and outraged that a Bush presidency will accelerate the AIDS crisis at home and abroad.

When: Friday, October 13, 2000 at 12 noon.

Where: Republican National Committee Headquarters, First St. between C & D, S.E. Washington, D.C.

Why: Despite U.S. policy on AIDS in Africa figuring prominently in domestic debate over the last two years, Bush has refused to state his plan for confronting the AIDS crisis in the U.S. and in the developing world. Bush has refused to respond to criticism of his record on AIDS in Texas, where more than 10,000 people with AIDS have died under his watch as governor.

Background: ACT UP insists that Bush's crushing silence on HIV speaks volumes to his lack of commitment to confronting the global killer: "As Texas governor he can't bring himself to say HIV in public, but he was happy to slash funding to AIDS prevention programs for Latinos," said Jose DeMarco of ACT UP. "The next president will be faced with a colossal public health crisis. Bush will write off the lives of millions of people with AIDS who are denied access to cheap generic AIDS drugs, just as he has written off the lives of Texans at highest risk for getting infected with HIV."

"Bush's record on AIDS in Texas is a dismal failure," said Barry Busch, ACT UP Philadelphia member. "He stands in opposition to sensible, proven effective AIDS prevention programs, like condom education. And when it comes to access to AIDS treatment, drug companies' killer prices on AIDS medication in the third world keeps his fat cat industry cronies happy - so he's happy, too."

ACT UP has been at the forefront of a domestic campaign forcing the Clinton/Gore Administration to change U.S. trade policy on access to life-extending generic AIDS drugs. Bush's strong ties to drug industry have convinced protesters that Bush will reverse trade policy reforms achieved by ACT UP and other groups. "Bush's 'compassionate conservatism' will mean the deaths of millions with AIDS if he takes the White House," said Diane Huff of ACT UP. "As a woman fighting for the lives of people with AIDS, I must stop Candidate Bush."


>From Southern Africa-Europe Trade and Development Update Volume 1 Issue 2, September 2000

ACTSA 28 Penton Street London N1 9SA, UK Tel: +44 20 7833 3133 Fax: +44 20 7837 3001 E-mail: Web:

Pharmaceutical companies reinstate South African legal challenge

Over forty large pharmaceutical companies are contesting that South Africa's Medicines and Related Substance Act is unconstitutional as it violates previous patent protection legislation and contravenes South Africa's obligations under the WTO TRIPS agreement. The controversial section of the legislation would allow South Africa to issue compulsory licenses to manufacture versions of key drugs that are still under patent. The legal action had been suspended but was revived in July. Until the matter is resolved the South African Government cannot proceed with implementation.

When South Africa passed the legislation in 1997 both the US and the European Union applied significant pressure to stop its implementation.

Campaigners in South Africa, Europe and the United States are arguing that the powerful pharmaceutical lobby is effectively pressuring US and European Governments to put their interests over access to vital drugs for some of the world's poorest people. Countries such as Brazil and Thailand are able to provide affordable drugs to combat diseases such as HIV/AIDS through manufacturing or importing generic products.

Much of the discussion at the 13th International AIDS Conference held in Durban in July centred on these issues. Mark Heywood, Director of the AIDS Law Project in Johannesburg, said, "This conference is unique for its focus on treatment and barriers to treatment for people living with HIV in Africa and the rest of the developing world. We've always expected the worst from the pharmaceutical companies and now we're just getting our act together in figuring out how to challenge their pricing policies which put drugs out of reach for so many poor people." For more information see the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) website at


October 4, 2000 - Geneva - Press Release

WHO's "Massive effort" is not agressive enough says M,decins Sans FrontiSres

For further information please call Daniel Berman at +41 79 286 9649 or Yves Bellego + 41 79 449 4463

Daniel BERMAN MSF/ Rue du Lac 12 PO Box 6090 CH-1211 Geneva 6 Switzerland tel: +41 22 849 84 07, fax: +41 22 849 84 04, mobile:+ 41 79 286 96 49, e-mail:

Geneva, 4 October 2000 -

WHO's new "Massive Effort" to address HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria is based on a faulty premise, according to comments made today by M,decins sans FrontiSres at the United Nations Geneva headquarters. MSF disagreed with WHO's claim that "each death [from these three diseases] can be avoided with low cost technologies that are available today." The "Massive Effort" advocacy campaign is being discussed this week with more than 80 NGOs in Winterthur, Switzerland. It is a response to the G8's new global battle against infectious diseases, announced at Okinawa last July.

"Although we appreciate that WHO is raising awareness about the dramatic impact of communicable diseases in developing countries and the need for prevention, we believe that the current emphasis on 'existing interventions' misleads the public into thinking that we already have the answers," said James Orbinski, President of MSF's International Council. "In fact, many effective medicines are either too expensive or don't exist. We think WHO's emerging plan fails to challenge the status quo."

MSF strongly supports many of WHO's proposed solutions, such as bed nets for malaria prevention and additional funding for the current TB strategy (DOTS), but called on WHO to be more ambitious in the short and middle-term. WHO's approach to Aids was cited as an illustration of the problem.

In its analysis to battle Aids, WHO outlines a series of prevention strategies and mentions the need to treat opportunistic infections. However, the drug cocktails (antiretrovirals) that have caused Aids deaths to plummet in wealthy countries are described as too expensive to consider for developing countries. In light of the fact that triple drug therapy can now be purchased for USD 800, MSF spoke of a moral obligation to begin treating patients where possible. Right now, some countries, such as Uganda, Ivory Coast and El Salvador are committed to expanding their Aids programs. MSF insists that these countries should receive assistance from WHO to secure affordable quality drugs.

"We also need WHO to emphasize the fact that research and development is at a standstill for the diseases that most affect people in poor countries. We think that this message should be a critical part of the Massive Effort advocacy campaign being launched this week in Winterthur," said Orbinski. "Some of the public/private partnerships to find new drugs for TB and malaria may eventually yield results but the current level of activity needs to be dramatically increased. It is WHO that should be challenging national governments to ramp up public sector research for diseases that have been abandoned by the multinational drug industry."

Of the 1,223 new drugs brought to market between 1975 and 1997, only 13 are indicated to treat tropical diseases. In a time when the private sector has shifted resources to more lucrative lifestyle diseases such as baldness and obesity, governments must fill this void.

Communicable diseases are responsible for 60 percent of the total disease burden in developing countries and kill 5.5 million people each year. World-wide 34 million people are infected with HIV, one person dies every 30 seconds from malaria and nearly one billion people will be newly infected with TB over the next twenty years.


Message-Id: <> From: "APIC" <> Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2000 08:01:07 -0500 Subject: Africa: Affordable Drugs

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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