Friday, February 01, 2013

Big Pharma & Western Governments Block African Imports of Generic AIDS Drugs

Amy Goodman's short interview last week with Dylan Mohan Gray, director of Fire in the Blood and Peter Mugyenyi who was arrested in Uganda for attempting to import affordable generic AIDS drugs is gripping viewing.

They explain that the cost of the generic pharmaceuticals is less than $1 per patient per day. By contrast the cost of the big pharmaceutical companies' branded, patented, triple cocktail AIDS treatments amount to $15,000 per patient per year.

Western governments' backing for the big pharmaceutical companies' operational response, to their fiduciary duty to maximise return to shareholders, makes the difference between $350 and $15,000. This is a matter of life and death that the market and the patent system not only do not and will not fix, but directly exacerbate.

Ms Goodman and her interviewees also tell the story of Zacike Achmat, a South African activist who founded the Treatment Action Campaign to support people living with HIV and AIDS. Achmat grew up in a family where if one child could not have chocolate, then none of them were allowed it. He decided to apply this principle to his own health situation by refusing to take the AIDS treatment he, as a white South African, could afford, until everyone with the illness was provided with access to the drugs. He reportedly became seriously ill before being convinced to re-commence his treatment in 2003 and continues to campaign today.