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AIDS

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  • Bell, Elizabeth
    New Regimen: AIDS-Drug Price War Breaks Out in Africa, Goaded by Generics Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) (03/07/01) P. A1; Schoofs, Mark; Waldholz,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7, 2001
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      "New Regimen: AIDS-Drug Price War Breaks Out in Africa, Goaded by
      Generics"
      Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) (03/07/01) P. A1; Schoofs,
      Mark; Waldholz, Michael
      Pharmaceutical giants such as Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and
      GlaxoSmithKline are trying to reverse their negative reputations
      and combat threats by Cipla and Hetero Drugs to undercut their
      AIDS drug sales with generics by agreeing to reduce branded drug
      prices even further. The companies are especially afraid that
      pressure by activists could lead to governments and international
      bodies rescinding patent rights. Merck's new initiative has
      eliminated the cumbersome practice of country-by-country price
      negotiations by setting a standard price for each drug at which
      any government, organization, or employer can purchase it. Some
      observers are afraid that even the latest round of price slashing
      is still not enough and that the AIDS problem will continue to
      worsen.

      "AIDS Activists Win Skirmish in South Africa"
      Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) (03/07/01) P. A17; Block,
      Robert
      AIDS activists in South Africa won a battle against international
      drug companies by redirecting attention back to the people living
      with AIDS during a landmark legal suit. The second day of the
      lawsuit belonged to the people as High Court Judge Bernard Ngoepe
      permitted the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), a local AIDS
      lobbying group, to join the South African defense case against 39
      major drug manufacturers. TAC lawyers plan to argue the need to
      put patients' rights above patent rights by describing how
      devastating the disease is and how patients become too sick and
      poor to pay for the costly medicines. Major drug firms and the
      South African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association are
      attempting to strike down the 1997 Medicines and Related
      Substances Control Act, a law they say infringes on intellectual
      property rights, breaks international trade agreements, and goes
      against the constitutional protection of property rights by
      permitting the import and manufacture of lower cost medicines.
      The pharmaceutical companies have been given until April 10 to
      file a response to TAC's arguments, and one week of hearings will
      resume on April 18.

      "Poverty, Prejudice Hinder India's AIDS Fight"
      Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) (03/07/01) P. A1;
      Constable, Pamela
      In the fight against the AIDS epidemic, India is also fighting
      poverty and prejudice--two critical issues that prevent
      HIV-infected people from being able to afford medical help and
      being accepted for help. Yusuf Hamied, the owner of Cipla, an
      Indian drug company, started a battle between major
      pharmaceutical companies and foreign governments, as he recently
      offered to sell copies of their patented drugs at lower cost to
      developing countries. Last month, Hamied offered AIDS cocktail
      drugs for $350 annually per patient to a doctor's charity that
      works with AIDS patients in Africa. Normally, the cocktails sell
      for $10,000 to $15,000 in the West. Cipla's foreign drug rivals
      say his interests are not altruistic, but rather a selfish way to
      gain a monopoly in India and in developing nations of much needed
      drugs. However, Hamied explains his offer by noting that "in
      five years, we will probably have 35 million HIV-positive people
      [in India]. If we do nothing about it, India will become another
      Africa, and then it will be too late." The Indian government has
      undertaken major steps to initiate awareness programs and control
      the spread of HIV, but AIDS remains widely misunderstood due to
      strong national cultural taboos and a lack of education.

      "Kenya Says Will Import Cheap Generic AIDS Drugs"
      Reuters (www.reuters.com) (03/06/01); Blomfield, Adrian
      Sam Ongeri, Kenya's health minister, has proposed invoking a
      clause in World Trade Organization regulations that would allow
      his country to engage in parallel importation to bring in cheaper
      generic AIDS drugs. He defended his desire to invoke the clause
      by noting that 600 Kenyans die every day from AIDS and 2.6
      million of the country's 28 million people are infected with HIV.
      AIDS has already been declared a national disaster in Kenya by
      President Daniel arap Moi. Major pharmaceutical companies have
      been accused of using their patent rights to set prices of drugs
      at a level above what African nations can afford.

      "Kenya: Tests for An AIDS Vaccine"
      New York Times (www.nytimes.com) (03/07/01) P. A6
      Researchers have launched tests of an AIDS vaccine based on
      research from a group of Nairobi prostitutes. One of the first
      volunteers for the tests on low-risk individuals was Dr. Pamela
      Mandela, a nose and throat specialist who noted, "With this step
      I am fighting back." The vaccine was developed after researchers
      came across a group of prostitutes in Nairobi's Majengo area who,
      despite repeated exposure to the virus, never contracted HIV.

      "Bill Would Address HIV/AIDS Overseas"
      Reuters Health Information Services (www.reutershealth.com)
      (03/06/01)
      U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Russell Feingold
      (D-Wis.) introduced on Tuesday a measure that would help other
      developing nations address the AIDS epidemic. The bill would
      make it easier for nations in which HIV/AIDS is epidemic to
      import generic drugs, or to find other ways to obtain cheaper
      medicines. The new measure would also allocate $25 million in
      grants, for administration by the Agency for International
      Development, for use by countries to strengthen and expand their
      healthcare infrastructures and their ability to distribute
      HIV/AIDS drugs. Another feature of the new bill would be to
      adopt a $1 million annual loan forgiveness program for health
      professionals who agree to supply HIV/AIDS care in developing
      nations.
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