News Release

Gore and AIDS Drugs

Vice President Gore’s role in setting policies for AIDS drugs in countries such as South Africa has become a simmering issue. These analysts are available to explain why:

ROBERT WEISSMAN
Co-director of the Essential Action organization founded by Ralph Nader and co-author of Corporate Predators, Weissman said: “Africa is suffering from an AIDS epidemic that U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher equates with the plague that decimated Europe in the 14th century. But while treatments are available to enable many people with HIV/AIDS to live relatively normal lives, the pharmaceutical industry has priced them out of reach. When countries like South Africa seek to undertake to lower the cost of essential medicines for HIV/AIDS, the U.S. government shamefully bullies them, threatening them with trade and other sanctions. Gore has played a leading role in carrying out this unconscionable policy. It is time he reversed himself and U.S. government policy, so that people’s health needs triumph over industry greed.”
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JULIE DAVIDS
A member of ACT UP Philadelphia, where Gore will be fundraising today, Davids said: “Al Gore has played a pivotal role in threatening trade sanctions against South Africa for their 1997 law which permits the generic manufacture of AIDS drugs, even though such a law is allowed by trade agreements that the U.S. has signed. The pharmaceutical companies oppose this law not because they would lose any money directly — they can’t sell significant amounts of AIDS drugs in South Africa at the prices they are charging — but because they don’t want people in the U.S. and other wealthy nations to realize that these drugs cost pennies to make.”

PETER LURIE, M.D.
A medical researcher with Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, Dr. Lurie (who has conducted research on AIDS in South Africa, where he is from) said: “Right now, HIV is spreading in South Africa at a rate about as high as anywhere in the world. For the U.S. government to prevent the South Africans from using a perfectly legal mechanism for addressing this terrible epidemic is unconscionable.”
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ELLEN MILLER
Executive director of Public Campaign, Miller said: “Why is Al Gore leading the Clinton administration’s efforts to prevent Third World countries like South Africa from producing or buying affordable generic versions of critically needed AIDS drugs? The answer: there’s literally millions of dollars in hard and soft money contributions to be had by serving the interests of the pharmaceutical industry. The Gore campaign is well-positioned to reap a bumper crop of pharmaceutical cash.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167