FIGHT PFIZER'S KILLER
DEMAND ACCESS TO LIFE SAVING AIDS DRUGS FOR POOR COUNTRIES
THURSDAY, SEPT 7, 2000 AT 12 NOON AT PFIZER PHARMACEUTICALS
AT 42NDS ST., BETWEEN 2ND AND 3RD AVENUES, NEW YORK CITY
Pfizer, the largest drug company in the United States, makes a life saving AIDS drug called fluconazole (Diflucan). It treats a painful brain infection called Cryptococcal meningitis. Without treatment, the infection kills people with AIDS in two months. About 10% of the 34 million people with HIV worldwide will develop this brain infection.
Pfizer's fluconazole brings in more than one billion dollars in sales each year. Around the world poor people with AIDS suffer and die without this drug, because Pfizer's price gouging keeps it out of reach of the countless people who need it.
In South Africa, where 4.5 million people have HIV, no one can afford Pfizer's killer prices. AIDS activists in South Africa and the United States have been demanding that Pfizer drop the price or allow generic production of the drug. In South Africa, Pfizer's patent means that even the government must pay $4.15 per pill, while in Thailand, where Pfizer does not have a patent on fluconazole, the drug is only $0.29 per pill. In Kenya, where Pfizer also has exclusive rights, fluconazole costs $18.00 per pill -- more expensive, even, than U.S. prices.
While Pfizer blocks access to affordable, generic fluconazole, countless numbers of people with AIDS die preventable deaths. In an unprecedented resolution, the United Nations Subcommission for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights recently found that the WTO's rules on pharmaceutical patents are anathema to human rights, and will effectively cripple efforts by developing countries to deal with epidemics of disease. The resolution states that there are " apparent conflicts between the intellectual property rights regime embodied in the [WTO rules], on the one hand, and international human rights law, on the other." In a contradictory move, Pfizer is one of 50 companies that UN Secretary -General Kofi Annan has invited to join in a "global compact." This agreement allows the corporations to use the UN emblem in return for pledging to uphold human rights principles on labor and environmental protection. But a letter signed by 20 nongovernmental organization s has charged that the compact, which lacks any enforcement mechanism, allows corporations -- many of them flagrant polluters and sweatshop operators - to "wrap themselves in the flag of the UN in order to 'blue-wash' their public image while at the same time avoiding significant changes to their behavior." Pfizer should not get a free ride from the UN while its pricing policies are killing hundreds of thousands world-wide.
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