News Release

Big Pharma Blackmailing Thailand on AIDS Drugs?

Activists today decried Abbott Laboratories’ stance on selling medicines to people living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand and announced plans to protest at offices across the U.S. during Abbott’s shareholder meeting set for Friday near Chicago. Under pressure from activists, Abbott recently offered to re-introduce the drugs if Thailand gives up the right to import generic medicines — a deal activists called “blackmail.”

ROBERT WEISSMAN
Director of the group Essential Action, Weissman said today: “By using legal methods to authorize price-lowering generic competition on overpriced AIDS and heart-disease drugs, Thailand has shown the world what it means to place public health over commercial considerations. That is exactly why Abbott is trying to blackmail the country, by withdrawing already submitted applications to market new drugs — including an important AIDS medicine. At stake in this dispute is whether patients’ lives or drug company super-profits are more important.”
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JON UNGPHAKORN
MATTHEW KAVANAGH
Executive secretary of the AIDS Access Foundation in Thailand and a former senator from Thailand currently visiting the U.S., Ungphakorn said today: “What Abbott has done is not only against Thailand but against the entire world. It is completely immoral to withdraw drugs from a country whose government has exercised an entirely legal act of trying to ensure access to medicines to people living with AIDS.” Kavanagh is executive director of the group Global Justice.
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SARA RENN
National organizer for the Student Global AIDS Campaign, Renn said today: “Friday we will demand action by Abbott shareholders at their annual meeting and through a massive die-in in downtown Chicago. … We will continue to stand in solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS in Thailand and around the world in calling for universal access to affordable AIDS medicines — and that means generic drugs.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167