Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/232/9258

From The Socialist newspaper, 30 November 2001

World Aids Day: Warning: Drug Giants Can Seriously Damage Your Health

WORLD AIDS Day (1 December) marks two decades since the first AIDS cases were reported. 22 million people have since died from AIDS-related illnesses. 36 million are estimated to be living with the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

Lionel Wright

In South Africa, a quarter of secondary school students and a fifth of primary school children are HIV-positive and 1,800 teachers died from AIDS-related conditions last year.

Thirty-nine of the world's richest pharmaceutical companies took legal action against South Africa this year to try to block legislation which would let the authorities obtain medication without paying the full market rates charged by the multinationals.

These 39 firms own patents for the key drugs which can stop the virus spreading in an infected person (e.g. 'combination therapy') or stop HIV being transmitted from a virus-carrying mother to her unborn child.

But buying these drugs at full market rate prices for even a minority of their HIV-positive citizens would consume the national health budgets of most Third World countries.

States such as Thailand and Brazil looked into cheaper alternatives including purchasing from 'generic' (non-brand name) manufacturers at cut-down rates, or creating non-profit companies to produce equivalent products at a fraction of the market cost.

The US government exerted colossal pressure on countries which refused to deal directly with patent holders. Thailand abandoned a cheap drugs initiative when threatened with a US trade blockade.

In April the 39 drugs monopolies dropped their action after it became a public relations catastrophe for them. But this victory has yet to touch the lives of most HIV-positive South Africans. President Thabo Mbeki still denies that HIV causes AIDS and has told his health officials to spend less on the pandemic.

Some pharmaceutical firms tried to improve their tarnished image (and avert independent production of alternatives) by cutting prices on certain lines. But even at the new price these drugs remain beyond the pocket of most health ministries.

Life and death choice

THE RICHER capitalist countries use the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to impose their goods and services on poorer countries while preserving their own tariff barriers against potential Third World imports such as food.

But even the WTO's TRIPS agreement (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) provided for emergencies where a member state can grant itself a manufacturing license irrespective of the patent-holder's attitude.

Western states, though, refuse to acknowledge these provisions, although it was the US government which threatened during the recent anthrax scare to break the patent of anti-anthrax drugs-producing monopoly Bayer until it slashed the price.

However the last-minute agreement on drugs rules at November's WTO meeting in Doha appears to represent a victory for the poorer states. The WTO ignored US objections, declaring that TRIPS "should not prevent members from taking measures to protect public health".

If the Doha decision bears fruit, it will mean the difference between life and death for millions with HIV and AIDS across the neo-colonial world. It potentially extends the scope for poorer countries to ignore patents long-term.

But this issue will come back before the 2002 WTO meeting. New Scientist reports that "rich industrialised countries are already gearing up to limit its impact".

A leaked European Commission document shows that Western states will try to limit the Doha agreement to the very poorest countries, block a government's emergency public health measures if the patent holder has offered "favourable prices" and forbid makers of generic drugs exporting to more than one country.

Socialists support any initiative which extends vital treatment for HIV/AIDS and other diseases to the masses of every country. But the working class and poor people internationally need to take over these multinationals as the only permanent remedy to drug overpricing and other problems caused by imperialist domination of the globe.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 30 November 2001:

War... Recession... We Won't Pay The Price!

Fighting For Jobs And Services

Afghanistan 'Endgame': Not The End Of The 'Game'

Western War Coalition: Buying Friends And Influence

World Aids Day: Warning: Drug Giants Can Seriously Damage Your Health

Anti-Privatisation Conference: 'We're Determined To Fight Back And Win'

Israel/Palestine: Imperialism's Bitter Fruit

Socialist Alliance Conference: The Issues At Stake


 

Home   |   The Socialist 30 November 2001   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

AIDS:

trianglePride 2017: we need a fighting, socialist movement for LGBT+ rights

triangleLGBT people need militancy, not false 'allies' like David Cameron

Health:

triangleGlenfield victory shows people power can save our NHS

triangleVictory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangleTyneside to protest against A&E and walk-in cuts

triangleNHS cuts kill!

Drugs:

triangleThem and us

triangleTories wreck our NHS

trianglePrescription and dental charges to rise again - fight for a free NHS!

HIV:

triangleFight to defend HIV drug victory

triangleLeeds Pride 2016: Pride must be political!

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

7/12/17

RMT

Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

7/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite protest against blacklisting

6/12/17

Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

6/12/17

Transport

Arriva bus strikers stand firm

6/12/17

Pensions

BT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes

6/12/17

PCS

Driving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

6/12/17

Newham

School staff strike against privatisation

6/12/17

Rail

Brutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services

6/12/17

PCS

PCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference

6/12/17

North Yorkshire

Court maintains injunction against fracking protesters

6/12/17

Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Universal Credit protest

6/12/17

Coventry

Coventry Socialist sales hit 1,000

6/12/17

TUSC

TUSC conference to debate 2018 elections

6/12/17

Liverpool

Liverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students

6/12/17

Kirklees

Plans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the full 5% claim

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangle30 Nov Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

More ...

triangle12 Dec Birmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangle12 Dec Liverpool Socialist Party: Fighting council cuts

triangle13 Dec Caerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2