patent wars on aids drugs
public health or corporate wealth?
Here are more than 40 quotes.
Dr Eric Goemaere of Médecins Sans Frontières AIDS program in South Africa said that, "we who work in the field don't see AIDS simply in terms of statistics, but as people: patients, colleagues and friends who have to be told to go home and prepare to die because the medicines that could keep them alive are not available for them. It is no longer morally acceptable to debate whether or not anti-retrovirals should be provided. We must concentrate now on finding, quickly, ways to make sure they are."
Kevin Watkins, the senior policy adviser of the charity Oxfam, called for "a fundamental reform of the WTO intellectual property rules, starting with a reduction in the period of patent protection, reinforced health safeguards and a comprehensive ban on the threatened use of trade sanctions."
Sir Richard Sykes of GlaxoSmithKline called companies that make generic version of the patented AIDS drugs as "pirates on the high seas".
When Mike Moore was the director-general of the WTO, he stated "Industry puts the average cost of developing a new drug at around $500 million. Were it not for a patent system that rewards companies for risking millions on research, anti-AIDS drugs would not exist."
While commenting on the role of the pharmaceutical industry, Mr. Sykes said, "this is a very important industry, not just for healthcare. It is a very important industry in this country in terms of balance of payments."
Dr. Sue Meyer of the research group, Genewatch UK stated, "Science is driven by private interest, aiming at maximizing their shareholder values, rather than addressing public health issues."
"Our situation should be an example for other Latin American, Caribbean and African nations. Everyone should have free access to these medications," said Minister Jose Serra, Brazilian health minister while commenting on how Brazil halved their AIDS death rate by supplying AIDS drugs free of charge to those needed.
S Vedaraman, then director of the Indian Patent Office (who is considered the 'architect' of the patent law of 1970), stated India's principle as follows: 'We are not against patents. And we are prepared to pay decent license fees. But we in India cannot afford monopolies.'
Brazil's health minister, Jose Serra, maintains that: "we must insist that lives come before profits."
"Clearly, intellectual-property rights are the lifeblood of our industry," said John Kearney, the chief executive of the South African subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline.
Mbeki, elected to succeed Mandela in 1999, expressed doubt that HIV caused AIDS, setting back AIDS-prevention efforts. "Some patients dropped out of our program because the president was saying HIV doesn't cause AIDS and they thought his opinion should be worth something," said Roberts, the public-health nurse in Johannesburg.
Sophia Tickell, of Oxfam said : "Generic medicines are a lifeline to millions of people in the developing world. The issue of price is critical for poor people in developing countries, 80% of whom pay for medicines out of their own pockets. The slightest increase in price can force people to make unacceptable sacrifices - such as going without food, or selling assets - in order to cover the costs of treating illness."
Dr Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, in his World AIDS Day message, said: "In Africa, AIDS has had a catastrophic effect on food security. With millions killed by AIDS, and millions more left ill, whole communities have been left defenseless when drought arrives."
Marcia Kran, of the UNDP regional office in the Slovakian capital, Bratislava, said: "Experience throughout the world shows that 1% as an infection rate is a threshold. Beyond 1%, efforts to turn back the epidemic have failed in many other countries."
South African President Thabo Mbeki's once claimed: "I don't know anyone who has died of Aids."
"The strong notion of contagion is still very much there, of fear of the disease and of the stigma and discrimination that it can cause", says Lester F. Coutinho, country programme adviser for the Packard Foundation, an international donor agency.
Dr Madhu Bala Nath, of International Planned Parenthood Federation says: "At least people now see HIV/Aids as a problem, and I think the denial phase is beginning to pass."
Dr. David Wilson, "Commercial pharmaceutical do not bother to develop pediatric formulations of Aids medicines because children are not an attractive market."
Since the last AIDS conference in Barcelona in 2002 generated optimism about the availability of new antiretroviral drugs, 6 million people have died of AIDS and 10 million people have become newly infected
The number of people on treatment has doubled in the developing world to 440,000. U.N. officials hope to treat 3 million people there by 2005.
Cost of the drugs is a key issue. European and U.S. pharmaceutical giants make most of them, protected by patents and costing as much as $5,000 per person per year. "
The United States wants to put pressure on developing countries who try to stand up for their own industries," Guigaz said. "This is a problem."
"A vicious terrorist is out there. It is not Osama bin Laden, it is AIDS," Hollywood actor Richard Gere told the conference. "The biggest threat to our livelihood, our happiness is AIDS."
"The epidemic shows no sign of weakening its grip on human society," writes Kofi Annan, UN secretary general, in the report's foreword. "The AIDS crisis continues to deepen in Africa, while new epidemics are growing with alarming speed in Asia and Eastern Europe. No region of the world has been spared."
"It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS , but no one should die of ignorance." - Elizabeth Taylor
"We've had too many World AIDS Days." - Richard Gere
"We will need many more men and women from all walks of life to come forward to help find a vaccine to prevent AIDS," said Seth Berkley, President of IAVI.
"How long can science ignore its own dark history? " - Robert E. Lee, M.S. M.S.W. L.C.S.W.
"There is a sense of denial by the Indian government that HIV-affected children face widespread abuse, and their concerns are invisible in government's policy response," said Zama Coursen-Neff
The Human Rights Watch report, which includes testimony from children, says: "Doctors have refused to treat and sometimes even touch HIV positive children. Schools have expelled or segregated children because they or their parents are HIV positive."
Robert Janssen, director of the CDC's HIV-prevention programs, said, "it's a question of limited resources. The reality is that the disease is far more prevalent among older Americans, and that's where the money should go."
"We respect local governments' decisions as to how best to manage their HIV/AIDS programs," he said. "We will, however, not use U.S. tax dollars to purchase medications that have not passed the same consumer protection standards as those we use for our own patients in the United States," said Randall L. Tobias.
"What's happening in Asia is determining the global outcome," Peter Piot, executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, said in a telephone interview. "There is a desperate need for leadership, particularly in Asia and in Eastern Europe."
"Most of the women and girls, as much in Asia as in Africa, don't have the option to abstain when they want to," she said. "Women who are victims of violence are in no position to negotiate anything, never mind faithfulness and condom use, " said Kathleen Cravero.
"There's a window of opportunity to get prevention programs up to scale in Asia," said Cravero. "If we miss it, we will see an epidemic the likes of which we never imagined."
"People are dropping their guard and that will have its consequences," Cravero said.
"AIDS is likely to be with us for a very long time, but how far it spreads and how much damage it does is entirely up to us," said Piot, the program executive director.
"This is a case of unmitigated corporate greed at a time of unprecedented concern about drug prices," said Benjamin Young
"We have to be frank and admit that there's a long way to go," Peter Piot, executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.
If patients are self-medicating without proper supervision, it can very quickly lead to drug resistance and side effects, which if they are not managed, can be deadly, said Kevin Frost, director of Treat Asia.
Jim Yong Kim, the director of AIDS programs for WHO, said: "It's just a matter of getting down to it, of going forward and getting people trained."
|Team 00460 April '04 Competition disclaimer copyright|