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SF Gate: Washington Must Act To Fight AIDS in Africa

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  • Cathy Weber
    Here I go again....just thought someone might be interested in e mailing Clinton about this. ... This article was sent to you by someone who found it on SF
    Message 1 of 1 , May 10, 2000
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      Here I go again....just thought someone might be interested in e mailing
      Clinton about this.
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      This article was sent to you by someone who found it on SF Gate.
      The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
      http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/05/09/ED82790.DTL
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      May 9, 2000 (SF Chronicle)
      Washington Must Act To Fight AIDS in Africa



      TEN DAYS AGO, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., got up on the Senate floor
      and excoriated drug companies for trying to "squeeze every last drop of
      profit from the suffering of millions of HIV/AIDS victims in Africa."
      An incensed Feinstein was reacting to the prospect that a House-Senate
      conference committee would remove an amendment to the Africa Growth and
      Opportunity Act she and Sen. Russell Feingold, D- Wis., had sponsored,
      essentially allowing developing countries to bypass the prices set by drug
      companies on anti-AIDS drugs and produce them at a much cheaper rate.
      Feinstein was particularly incensed by one drug, fluconazole, marketed by
      Pfizer as Diflucan in the United States, where it is used to fight yeast
      infections. In developing countries, it is used to fight cryptococcal
      meningitis, an opportunistic infection associated with AIDS. The drug can
      be bought for $1.20 per daily dose in Thailand, where Pfizer has no patent
      on the drug. In South Africa and Kenya, however, the drug cost $17.84, a
      price Feinstein described as "unconscionable."
      Regrettably, the trade bill is likely to be approved by Congress this week
      without the Feinstein-Feingold amendment.
      The setback is especially unfortunate because it comes only months after a
      welcome change in U.S. policy. Last December, Vice President Al Gore
      announced that henceforth, the United States will show more "flexibility"
      in enforcing U.S. patent rights in countries that can demonstrate a
      genuine medical emergency. Under the policy, foreign governments can force
      U.S. drug companies to grant licenses to companies in their countries
      which can produce the drugs more cheaply.
      Trying to salvage something from her setback in Congress, Feinstein has
      called on President Clinton to issue an executive order to formalize the
      administration's new policy. It will not have the same force as an actual
      law -- a future president could easily overturn it with another executive
      order -- but it is a necessary first step.
      A Clinton administration official told The Chronicle it is considering
      Feinstein's request. But the time for extended deliberation is long past.
      This is a crisis.
      With an estimated 5,500 people dying in Africa daily, any action that can
      slow the destructive path of AIDS must be taken without an more delay.


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      Copyright 2000 SF Chronicle
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