September 16, 1996
The Names Project Foundation.
310 Townsend Street, Suite 310
San Francisco, CA 94107
Once more the Names Project will unfurl the AIDS Quilt before the Capitol to bear witness to the plague's ravages. But this time will be different. The Names Project has disturbingly decided to add pharmaceutical company booths to the Quilt's display at a wellness pavilion on the Mall. But drug company representatives deserve no place in the Quilt's process of community grieving and remembrance.
The history of the drug industry in the AIDS crisis is one of greed in overpricing life-saving treatments; negligence in the drug approval process; obstruction of scientific inquiry when it proves inconvenient to monopoly advantage; and arrogant indifference to the urgency of the crisis and its affected communities
As promising new treatments begin to arrive, the drug companies think nothing of fair pricing, true expanded access, or expeditious ways to deliver drugs to the global population of people living with HIV. Their alibi of discovery and production costs is entirely undocumented, if not basically fictitious, and by charging what the market will bear, they make cruel mockery of the ethical responsibility of medicine for people, not for profit.
For these reasons, ACT UP will be staging a mass protest against the drug company lobby on Friday, October 11 and, on October 13, a political funeral against government inaction, at all levels, which has abetted AIDS by its cosmetic approach to the emergency.
When the AIDS Quilt is laid out, it transforms the underlying terrain into hallowed ground. This land, consecrated by the memorials to those fallen, should not be defiled by the crass presence of business interests seeking to make the AIDS Quilt a product placement opportunity. The presence of drug company booths is an offense to the memory of everyone who has died from AIDS and those now living with it.
We demand that the Names Project, in the name of decency, prohibit drug company booths from being anywhere in visible proximity to the space of the AIDS quilt. The drug industry s financial support of the Names Project does not now, or ever, warrant the right to co-exist with the Quilt s retrospect of loss and prospect of redemption.
We recognize the need to provide individuals attending the Quilt events with access to impartial treatment information. This should be done in a non-commercial manner with clear and respectful geographic separation from the testimonials to our community s loss. Pharmaceutical sales representatives should not be allowed to manipulate the Quilt for their own selfish ends.
If drug company officials advertise within the Quilt's arena, they deserve the same expression of outrage as did the money-changers at the Temple-site.
ACT UP/New York
332 Bleeker St. Suite G5
NY, NY 10014
The NAMES Project reply skips the main objection, which is that nothing involving commercial pharmaceutical companies is unbiased.
From their reply, you will see it is not the Wellness pavilion but the "Stadtlander's Wellness pavilion".
Stadlander's, the price-gouging pharmacy, wanted to trade a mile long rainbow flag for millions of dollars in overcharging PWAs for life-saving treatments.
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