[mgj-discuss] Brazil Protests: 12:30 Tomorrow (Fri) at Brazilian
rob at essential.org
Thu May 12 20:53:39 GMT 2005
12:30 PM at the
3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
ACT UP * Student Global AIDS Campaign * Health GAP (Global Access Project)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 12, 2005
AIDS Activists Deliver Spine to Brazilian Embassy and Mission
Urge Brazil to Show Leadership, Break Patent Monopolies on Costly HIV
Protests Friday, May 13: 12:30 PM at the Brazilian Mission to the UN, 747
Third Ave., btw. 46tth and 47th Sts., Manhattan and 12:30 PM at the
Brazilian Embassy, Washington D.C. 3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Friday, May 13 AIDS activists will deliver a spine to the Brazilian
government at the Brazilian Mission to the UN and the Brazilian Embassy,
along with a memorandum to Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health, and
the President of Brazil during two simultaneous rallies. The protesters are
joining Brazilian civil society groups in an international campaign to urge
Brazil to keep its promise to increase access to HIV treatment by breaking
patent monopolies on key AIDS medicines through a WTO-legal, cost-cutting
mechanism used to protect public health called "compulsory licensing." A
compulsory license is issued by a government to permit production of a
patent protected medicine without the consent of the patent holder;
competition drives down the cost of medicines, and the patent holder is paid
"Brazil has shown tremendous leadership in the fight against AIDS," said
John Riley of ACT UP New York. "Poor country governments and AIDS activists
are now looking to Brazil to keep its promise and to take all necessary
steps to override the patents on these overpriced, desperately-needed
second-generation AIDS drugs. All eyes are watching Brazil."
On March 15 2005, Brazil announced its intent to issue compulsory licenses
for four high-priced, patented AIDS medicines if drug companies did not
negotiate voluntary licensing agreements for the drugs after one month. The
deadline passed with no announcement from Brazil. The medicines are critical
for HIV treatment when initial combinations of medicine have failed. The
cost of these four drugs alone is 80% of the Brazilian AIDS budget,
threatening the sustainability the program.
An open letter to the government of Brazil, initiated by Brazilian civil
society organizations and signed by 200 groups from around the world, calls
the government a "tiger with no teeth," for its as yet unfulfilled promises
to break patent monopolies on these critically important AIDS drugs. (The
civil society statement is posted on www.healthgap.org.)
Brazil's National STD/AIDS program has been internationally lauded for its
program of universal HIV treatment access and bold prevention campaigns.
Last week Brazil, in a move praised by activists and human rights experts
around the world, rejected $40 million in AIDS funding from the United
States that was conditioned on Brazil agreeing to condemn prostitution.
"The success of the Brazilian AIDS treatment program has been made possible
by the local production of generic medicines. This policy has brought down
the price of raw materials for antiretroviral medications internationally.
The Health Ministry must stand up to pharmaceutical companies--not only for
the Brazilian people, but for people living with AIDS around the world,"
said Sean Barry of Health GAP.
For more information contact: Shanti Avirgan, (917) 886-3519 or Sean Barry
(202) 306 2332
Message from Brazilian activist and LA Times article below, fyi.
>From: "Alessandra Nilo " <alessandra.nilo at gestospe.org.br>
>Date: Fri, 6 May 2005 10:01:30 -0300
>Subject: ITPS Call for Action- Brasil
>alessandra.nilo at gestospe.org.br
>Rua dos Médices, 68- Boa Vista
>Recife, PE - 50070-290
Brazil Criticized Over AIDS Drug Patents
By Associated Press
12:44 PM PDT, May 10, 2005
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - The global medical group Doctors Without
Borders criticized Brazil's government on Tuesday for failing to keep
its pledge to break the patents on expensive foreign AIDS drugs.
In March, the government threatened to break the patents on four
anti-AIDS drugs if producers didn't agree to allow Brazil to produce
generic equivalents or buy the drugs at discounted prices by April 4.
But that deadline passed without an agreement, and the government did
"The lack of action on the part of Brazilian authorities is
incomprensible. On the international level, Brazil has publicly
defended using the flexibilities included in the World Trade
Organization's TRIPS agreement," Doctors Without Borders said in a
statement signed by 107 other non-governmental organizations.
"But when it comes time to transforming this bold posture into acts
that benefit the Brazilian population, the government resembles a
toothless tiger," the statement said.
TRIPS is the World Trade Organization's intellectual property
agreement. It allows the government to grant licences allowing the
country to manufacture generic versions of patented drugs.
Brazil provides free anti-HIV and AIDS drugs to anyone who needs
them. But the government says the cost of newer drugs is driving up
expenses and endangering the program.
The drugs in question -- Abbott's combination pill of Lopinavir and
Ritonavir, Merck's Efavirenz, and Gilead Science's Tenofovir -- will
cost Brazil US$169 million (euro127 million) this year, or 67 percent
of the government's budget for imported AIDS drugs, the Health
The drugs are manufactured by Abbott Laboratories Inc., Merck & Co.
Inc. and Gilead Sciences Inc.
Brazil's intellectual property law allows the government to break
patents in a health emergency or if it decides prices are exorbitant.
In recent years, Brazil has repeatedly obtained price reductions from
big pharmaceutical companies by threatening to break patents on the
Merck has lowered the price for Efavirenz four times, but the
government says the price cuts are insufficient.
A press officer at the Health Ministry's anti-AIDS program said
breaking a patent was a delicate process. She said Brazil did not
want pharmaceutical companies to stop supplying the drugs before the
country could produce generic equivalents.
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