News Release

South Africa AIDS Trial


With a historic trial underway in South Africa, as 39 pharmaceutical companies try to stop the South African government from importing cheaper versions of AIDS drugs, the following analysts in the United States and South Africa are available for interviews:

Co-director of Essential Action and author of the recent paper “AIDS and Developing Countries: Facilitating Access to Essential Medicines,” Weissman said today: “With an appalling human tragedy unfolding in Africa, the multinational pharmaceutical industry has in its South African lawsuit decided to place its narrow proprietary interests over the life-and-death concerns of people with HIV/AIDS. Win or lose, the suit will delay the introduction of cheap generic AIDS drugs in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent, resulting in countless preventable deaths.”
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Krauss is a member of Act Up Philadelphia, which is holding protests against the pharmaceutical companies suing South Africa, including GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Act Up has put forward a number of demands of the pharmaceutical industry: “drop the lawsuit against the South African government”; “cease all efforts to block access to generics where branded drugs aren’t available or [are] priced out of reach of people with AIDS”; “stop pushing through groundless patent extensions to lengthen patent monopolies in primary market countries”; “issue voluntary licenses to other companies, non-profits or governments to facilitate production of drugs if they are not otherwise available to all people with HIV in a country.”
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A South African activist and former political prisoner, Brutus is professor of African literature at Worcester State College in Massachusetts. He said today: “There’s the fear that the government and the pharmaceutical companies are interested in stalling the matter, so it could drag on in the courts.”

Director of the Consumer Project on Technology, Love is in South Africa for the trial and is writing analysis available at the above web page. He said today: “The South African court did the right thing Tuesday in agreeing to hear from the Treatment Access Campaign, thus forcing the drug companies to respond to evidence of abusive pricing of AIDS drugs in South Africa. This also allows public health considerations to play a role in the trial. However, the drug companies, by legal bullying, delayed the case for more than a month with the ridiculous argument that they needed additional time to show the benefits of the patent system; the lawsuit was filed in 1998.”
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For further information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167