Athens December 2015:
Responsible Research and Development Affordable Medicines Seminar/Dec 2015 – by ACT UP LONDON activist Andria E-Mordaunt
It does seem outrageously unjust that depending on where you live on the planet, you will or will not be able to get medicines to stop these three illnesses/conditions from hurting your life terribly or even killing you. For example charging patients $1,000 for one pill.. In the US, for example, Hep C kills between 12 and 15,000 people a year.
I was given the opportunity to attend a meeting that was mostly about ways to campaign to make Hep, HIV and Cancer medicines affordable for the majority of people who need them, as opposed to Only those who live in India (with their own patent) or Egypt – as is the case for the Hep C drug, Sovaldi.
I was surprised and happy to meet people there from such a diversity of different organisations: from WHICH , the Consumers Association, that represents millions to a small group like Prometheus, which represents PLWHCV in Greece; they were all there. In all, there were 64 people there. Diarmid McDonald was also there from London as a Steering Committee Member of this European Alliance.
The key issue that we are confronting is that most Pharmas have financial-profiteering as a primary goal, when curing disease is what our key concern is as citizens trying to represent the many living with this three life-threatening conditions. At the very least, those medicines need to be accessible so that peoples lives are made manageable.
A CASE IN POINT…
Thanks to Azzi Momenghalibaf from the Open Society Foundation for this
In the USA, patients and their allies have taken to the streets in their thousands to challenge GILEAD and other multinational pharmaceutical companies about their over-priced medicines. Half of biomedical R&D is actually paid for by the public. When Gilead Sciences launched its new hepatitis C drug Sovaldi at $1,000 per pill in 2013, and then charged even more for the follow-up combination drug Harvoni, it sparked public outrage and forced unprecedented rationing of these life-saving medicines.
Early December, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee concluded that Gilead “pursued a calculated scheme for pricing and marketing its hepatitis C drugs based on one goal: maximizing revenue, regardless of the human cost.” Gilead knew that its pricing would deny access to its cure to the vast majority of the three million Americans living with hepatitis C but it didn’t care. “Let’s hold our position … no matter the headlines,” wrote Gilead’s executive vice president for commercial operations!!
Gilead (and other Pharmas) say that high prices are needed to spur innovation and recoup investment in research and development. It found that R&D costs did not factor into Gilead’s pricing at all—and neither did its $11 billion outlay to acquire Pharmasett, the company that developed the active ingredient behind the hepatitis C medicines. Rather, the company set the price based on what they thought they could get away with…
What’s most troubling, however, is that a lack of any limits on pharmaceutical profit-seeking means that the United States pays the highest prices for medicines of any country in the world. A course of Sovaldi, for example, priced at $84,000 in the United States, is available for less than $900 in India and Egypt, and between $46,000 and $53,000 in France, Germany, and the UK. The case of Sovaldi is emblematic of a much larger problem. In the build up to next year’s U.S. presidential election, voters may start to have their say. Candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have responded to a worried electorate by beginning to put forward proposals for reform. The public now has an opportunity to demand approaches that rein in the pharmaceutical industry’s monopoly over who gets what medicines and at what price.
The question is, will we/they take it..
SO WHAT TO DO ABOUT THIS HERE IN THE UK…..
We obviously need to increase awareness and one way we can do that is through one of ACT.UPs expertise i.e.: Non– Violent Direct Action (NVDA) which often attracts Media and so people read about it, watch it or get active on social media about it. We could mobilise thousands to demonstrate on the streets, though, apart from AIDS Activists, I have not known patients to do this in large enough numbers… Oh yeh we are AIDS Activists! Brilliant
If that still leaves people like Martin Shkreli, a pharmaceutical executive, over-pricing life-saving medicines, we need to be lobbying our national governments and multi-national institutions to stop these corporations, through changing legislation, so that monopolies cannot be the order of the day , and Patents are not international. I’ve written all that in very few words and it is a lot of work and we need to be galvanising support from ethical media and lawyers, who can advise us on this stuff
In the meantime, did y’all see the incredible action that ACT.UP did a month ago outside the GILEAD Conference? See pic here on the website: Fab!
See Yas! Xx Andria E-Mordaunt
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