AIDS DRUGS FOR AFRICA MARCH & RALLY

40 Drug Companies take South Africa to High Court Over Generic Medicines Plan;
Global Day of Protest to Condemn Lawsuit, Demand AIDS Treatments Worldwide

MARCH 5, 2001
12:00 PM: Rally: 59th Street & 5th Avenue
March to GlaxoSmithKline on Park Ave at 59th Street and Bristol-Myers Squibb on Park Ave at 51st Street

(New York City) Over 200 demonstrators joined ACT UP, the Health GAP Coalition and other groups in the Global Treatment Access Campaign for a rally and march against multinational pharmaceutical company profiteering and patent abuse. The demonstration was a response to the call to action and solidarity from AIDS activists in South Africa against drug companies suing Nelson Mandela and the government over the South African Medicines Act. Oral arguments in the case began March 5 in the South African High Court in Pretoria.

The activists marched with a banner that read: "STOP MEDICAL APARTHEID OF AIDS: FROM BOTSWANA TO THE BRONX" and posters "DRUG COMPANY GREED KILLS" and "GENERIC AIDS DRUGS SAVE LIVES."

Since the suit was filed in Medicines Act in 1997, blocking its implementation, 400,000 South Africans have died of AIDS. If implemented, the Medicines Act would allow South Africa to dramatically increase access to affordable medications, including life-extending HIV medications, acquired as low-cost quality generic drugs, and/or through mechanisms of parallel importation and compulsory licensing.

The group held court in front of GlaxoSmithKline (GKS) and Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) and found the companies guilty of murder by blocking affordable AIDS drugs to countries in Africa. Activists referred to GSK and "GlobalSerialKillers" and BMS as "Big Murder Syndicate" in chants demanding the companies drop the lawsuit against the South African government.

Activists contend that, with over 30 million people facing death from untreated HIV disease worldwide, the pharmaceutical industry lawsuit lodged against the South African government is unconscionable.

During a recent release of earnings reports, investment analysts noted that Glaxo and other multinational companies could ship drugs at cost to developing nations at no financial hardship. Africa constitutes only 1.3% of the global pharmaceutical market.

Due to the high cost of pharmaceuticals, almost no South Africans have access to the medicines that are greatly extending lives in the United States. Generic competition has been proven to result in broad, sustained drug price drops.

Outraged by GlaxoSmithKline's history of thwarting access to affordable generic AIDS drugs in Africa, activists from ACT UP New York took over the giant drugmaker's Manhattan investor relations offices on February 20, 2001. The activists occupied the office, threw "blood money" and empty pill bottles, and chanted "GlaxoSmithKline! GlobalSerialKiller!" The five arrested are currently charged with 2 felonies and 3 misdemeanors.

ACT UP Demands the Drug Companies:
1) Drop the lawsuit against the South African government.
2) Cease all efforts to block access to generics where branded drugs aren't available or priced out of reach of people with AIDS
3) Stop pushing through groundless patent extensions to lengthen patent monopolies in primary market countries
4) 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.

NEWS FLASH >April 19th, 2001> Pharmaceutical Companies Beaten! _
The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and all the pharmaceutical companies
have unconditionally withdrawn their lawsuit in court against the South African Government
and AIDS activists. They have conceded to public criticism and the legal arguments
prepared by TAC and the South African government and world-wide outrage.
>read more > > >

 

GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION AND SOLIDARITY: MONDAY, MARCH 5. 2001

PROTEST AGAINST DRUG COMPANIES BLOCKING AFFORDABLE AIDS TREATMENT
IN SOUTH AFRICA

The events below are in response to the call to action and solidarity from AIDS activists in South Africa against multinational pharmaceutical companies. Groups around the world are responding to the call by organizing a Day of Action targeting drug company profiteering on March 5, 2001.

On this day, the court action by more than 40 multinational drug companies against the South African government will be heard in the Pretoria High Court. The drug companies are suing the South African government in order to block affordable, generic AIDS drugs and importation of less expensive drugs from other nations.

Called by the Treatment Action Campaign of South Africa, folks of all backgrounds will rally in defense of South Africa's attempt to bring drugs to its poorest citizens and Brazil's famously successful AIDS program. Both now stand threatened by the big drug monopolies and US trade actions. This time, it truly is a matter of people before profits, and above all, human life. On March 5, we said NO to murder by patent, to death by profit! We say YES to affordable medicines!

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TOWN MEETING: MARCH 4
"AIDS IN AFRICA: WHAT NEW YORKERS CAN DO TO FIGHT FOR AFFORDABLE TREATMENT."
Sunday, March 4, 2001 6:30 pm at Unity Fellowship Church in Brooklyn. 230 Classon Avenue.

MARCH & RALLY: MARCH 5
STOP DRUG COMPANY KILLER PRICE-GOUGING AND MURDEROUS PATENT POLICIES IN AFRICA.
Meet Monday, March 5th at noon at 59th Street and 5th Avenue in midtown Manhattan.

Global Treatment Access Campaign/(GTAC) NEW YORK
For more information: e-mail: gtacny@hotmail, 212-674-9598

To download outreach flyers or get more information on the campaign:
http://www.globaltreatmentaccess.org/nyc.html

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Current list Co-sponsors of GTAC New York: Health GAP Coalition,
Global ACCTS, African Services Committee, NYC Responds to AIDS in
Africa, GMHC, Treatment Action Group (TAG), International Gay and
Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Latino Commission on AIDS,
The Africa Fund, ACT UP New York, NYC Fair Trade Coalition, Urban
Justice Center, Queers For Racial & Economic Justice, Anti-Violence
Project, NYC AIDS Housing Network, Direct Access Alternative
Information Resources (DAAIR), Gray Panthers, International Socialist
Organization (ISO), New York Public Library Guild--Local 1930 of
District Council 37 (AFSCME), Bailey House.


"It is the darkest side of capitalism... people are dying because they will not reduce their prices." -- Jesuit Father Angelo d'Agostino, AIDS orphanage director in Kenya

"We wonder what sacrifices are going to be made at the altar of profit... Which is more deadly to Africa? Is it HIV, or is it the businessmen who have briefcasesof patent applications?" -- Chris Ouma, Nairobi physician, Action Aid Kenya

"At Nyumbani [Kenyan orphanage], nobody has been buried since the drugs cocktail programme got into full swing last August. One of the last to die was a nine-year-old called Samson. Twelve of Samson's friends in Nyumbani have since been saved. But time and money is running out. And if the drug companies keep the generics out of Kenya, the neat little graveyard will soon be filling up again."-- The Independent, 22 February 2001



DETAILED SUMMARY

** In South Africa, subsidiaries of US and European mega-drug companies have taken the South African government to court over its commitment to purchase cheaper generic and/or brand name medicines for millions living with HIV/AIDS. Originally filed in 1998 and supported by Clinton-Gore threats of trade sanctions until late 1999, the law suit is scheduled for trial in Pretoria March 5-12.

** In late 2000, the world largest and most profitable pharmaceutical company threatened a lawsuit against an Indian generic manufacturer, CIPLA, which was supplying cheaper medicines in Ghana. On Feb. 8 this year, pharmaceutical representatives said they would protect their patent rights against CIPLA's new plan to sell generic AIDS anti-virals to poor governments at a huge discount.

** This February, the U.S. lodged a complaint against Brazil at the World Trade Organization over its production of generic AIDS drugs. In what the New York Times calls a model solution to the AIDS crisis, Brazil has provided free AIDS drugs to over 60,000 citizens, and cut its death toll by over half since 1996. Now Brazil's program is endangered by the strong-armed tactics of big Pharma acting through their proxy, the US government.

The AIDS epidemic is the modern plague, and its impact will lay waste to the continent of Africa, wiping out a whole generation of working men and women, and leaving millions of orphans. However, this pandemic is treatable. The same medicines that have kept tens of thousands alive in this country, is out of reach for the world's poor, now making up over 95% of total AIDS cases.

Because of their monopoly patents, drug companies make mega-profits selling AIDS medicines at huge mark-ups - as much as 4500%. For example, the Indian manufacturer CIPLA has just offered anti-viral triple therapy costing $10,000 per year in the U.S. for $600 to poor African countries and for $350 to Medecins Sans Frontier.

The pharmaceutical giants, however, are working hard to keep their monopoly grip on the market by preventing generic competitors and desperate countries from providing cheaper alternatives. Sometimes, the industry acts directly on its own behalf by filing lawsuits and/or threatening court action.

Other times, it works behind the scene at the White House, in the Congress, with the U.S. Trade Representative, or at international agencies including the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, and UNAIDS. Activists around the world are protesting drug profiteering and death by monopoly pricing.

Even in our rich country, seniors fight back at price gouging by taking buses to Canada where drug prices are far cheaper. Joining them is a growing chorus of journalists, economists, students, religious figures, care givers, international charities, and nobel prize winning doctors, who cannot deny the simple truth - people are dying of AIDS because of corporate greed.

On March 5, a global day of action, timed to coincide with the South African court case and in support of the Brazilian AIDS program, will be held marking a new stage in the growing international solidarity movement. Called by the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, solidarity demonstrations and rallies will be held around the world. In the US, we have a special responsibility to fight the pharmaceutical companies on their home ground, and reaffirm our moral commitment to human values. In this case, it truly is a matter of people before profits.

Drop the Pharma lawsuit against affordable medicines in South Africa.
Drop threats against CIPLA's low-price AIDS medicines offer.
Drop the U.S. WTO action against the model Brazilian AIDS program.
Fund access to medicines now.
Stop the genocide by corporate greed.

"We wonder what sacrifices are going to be made at the altar of profit... Which is more deadly to Africa? Is it HIV, or is it the businessmen who have briefcasesof patent applications?"-- Chris Ouma, Nairobi physician, Action Aid Kenya


MASSIVE PROTESTS OCCURED IN SOUTH AFRICA.
Large U.S. Protests in solidarity occured also in Boston, Berkeley, Philadelphia along with New York City;
Further Protests planned in 8 countries and where-ever the greedy PharmCos are located.
For information on other March 5th Actions in the US / Worldwide,
Go to:
http://www.globaltreatmentaccess.org/action.html

HEAR the NPR report: http://www.npr.org/ramfiles/me/20010305.me.11.rmm



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NEWS FLASH >April 19th, 2001> Pharmaceutical Companies Beaten! _
The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and all the pharmaceutical companies
have unconditionally withdrawn their lawsuit in court against the South African Government
and AIDS activists. They have conceded to public criticism and the legal arguments
prepared by TAC and the South African government and world-wide outrage.
>read more > > >